Susitha R. Fernando
The newly appointed Law Commission which was appointed after a one and a half years delay is to give priority to some vital and controversial laws including the Freedom of Information Act, a senior Law Commission official said.
Law Commission Secretary Ms. Lakshmi Gunasekera said 12 important draft laws including the Freedom of Information Act which was prepared by the previous commissions were pending recommendations.
“One of the draft laws is the Freedom of Information Act which we have been recommending for the past 10 years. We have submitted two drafts; one by the last commission which updated the original draft prepared by the earlier commission,” the Law Commission Secretary said.
“There were lots of controversy over that and a lot of people view it as an essential act. Earlier it was said that information could not be released as the war was going on, but there is no war now,” Ms. Gunasekera said.
However she said it was not necessary to give all the information by the government as there could be secrets, government secrets and even information relating to people’s privacy.
“Anyway the public should have access to information regarding public institutions. For example people should have the right to know about the bills that are being drafted by the Law Commission,” she added.
The Secretary claimed that sometimes internal politics and also lack of support by lawyers themselves had hindered bringing vital amendments to existing laws of the country.
“One such draft law was the Pre-trial system which can avoid delays in civil cases. But lawyers don’t like it as they try to gain advantage of taking up cases for a number of days even over correcting documents,” the Law Commission Secretary claimed.
“Earlier we even tried to introduce a system to control lawyers’ fees but it also failed,” she added.
The Law Commission, one of the vital internationally recognized institutions which is responsible for the development, reforms and modernization of the country’s laws, was defunct due to the failure to appoint a chairman by the President. It was reappointed last week with the appointment of Nihal Jayamanne PC as the chairman and a 14-member commission comprising Shibly Aziz PC (who is also the Bar Association President), former Law Commission Chairman, Dr. Lakshman Marasinghe, Ms. Theresa Perera PC, Dr. Harsha Cabral PC, Additional Solicitor General Palitha Fernando PC, Ms. Dharani Wijayatilake, J. M. Swaminathan, Dr. Mario Gomez, K. Nelakandan, Kushan de Alwis, G. L. Anandalal Nanayakkara, Dr. Camena Gunarathne and M. U. M. Ali Sabry