June 4, 2011
UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya has presented a Private Member’s Bill on Freedom of Information, which has been issued as a supplement to the Government Gazette.
This Bill seeks “to provide for freedom of access to official information; specify grounds on which access may be denied: the establishment of the Freedom of Information Commission: the appointment of Information Officers: setting out the procedure for making requests for information and for matter connected therewith or incidental threto.’’
Mr. Jayasuriya brought this Bill up in September last year but withdrew at the request of the government which said that they were presenting similar Bill.
“But six months and then eight months passed and nothing happened so I attempted to present it in parliament,” Jayasuriya said yesterday. “But I was disturbed in the House and not allowed to do that.”
He said that he took it at a subsequent party leaders meeting when Ministers Basil Rajapaksa and Dinesh Gunawardena accused him of trying to discredit the government and seek popularity and that he will not be allowed to proceed with this Bill.
The Speaker was not present at the party leaders meeting where this happened and Jayasuriya said that it was up to the Speaker to follow up.
The Bill is modeled on similar legislation as exists in many countries including India.