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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked questions (FAQs) regarding to Right to Information and Legal Provision in Nepal:
  1. What is Information?
    Generally, information means any kind of knowledge, news, fact, data or record. Section 2 (b) of Right to Information Act, 2007 has defined 'Information' as any written document, material or information related to the functions, proceeding thereof or decisions of public importance made by the public agencies.
  2. What is Right to Information?
    Right to information denotes the right to request and obtain information of public importance held in public agencies and this term shall also include the right to study or observation of any written document, material held in public agency or proceedings of such public agency; to obtain a verified copy of such written document, to visit or observe the place where any construction of public importance is going on and to obtain verified sample of any materials or to obtain information held in any type of machine. 'Right to Information' is defined in Section 2 (e) of Right to Information Act, 2007.
  3. What is importance of right to information?
    Right to information is important to every individual. It has several importances, some of which are mentioned below:
    • It helps public to have access to information relating to public agencies;
    • It helps to ensure transparency in the governance system;
    • It empowers public to participate in governance system;
    • It makes public agencies responsible and accountable;
    • It provides an individual a legal basis to ask for information from public agencies; and
    • It allows public to know and raise questions to public agencies about the status of the work.
  4. How right to information is guaranteed in Nepal?
    Right to information is a fundamental right. The Constitution of Nepal, 1990 guaranteed it as fundamental right. Article 27 of the present Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007 has also guaranteed right to information as fundamental right. Furthermore, 'Right to Information Act, 2007' was enacted as an implementing legislation. Similarly, there is also a Right to Information Regulation, 2009 enacted with the purpose of giving enforcement to right to information laws in Nepal.
  5. Why do we need a separate Act on right to information?
    Right to information is a fundamental right guaranteed by the constitution. However, it is necessary to have details for the practice of right to information such as the procedures to obtain information, responsibility of public agencies, restrictions for the accessibility of right to information. Similarly, the constitution itself specifies that right to information shall be guaranteed in accordance with the law. Therefore, to make this right functional we need separate Act for right to information.
  6. What are the objectives of 'Right to Information Act, 2007?
    Right to Information Act, 2007 is enacted with several objectives. Particularly, these objectives are set forth for strengthening democracy. The objectives of Right to Information Act, 2007 are as follows:-
    • To make the functions of the state open and transparent in accordance with the democratic values;
    • To make the state responsible and accountable towards its citizens;
    • To make easy access of citizens to the information of public importance held in public agencies;
    • To protect sensitive information that could make adverse impact on the interest of the state and citizens;
    • To protect citizens' right to information through independent agency.
  7. What are the fundamental characteristics of Right to Information Act?
    Right to Information Act, 2007 is an important Act that enhances public access to information and ensures transparency in the governance system. It has many important characteristics, some of which are listed below:
    • The scope of this Act extends to political parties and Non-governmental Organizations to make them responsible to provide information.
    • It requires public agencies to disclose certain kinds of information by themselves even in the absence of any request. It has recognized the principle of proactive disclosure.
    • It has made a provision for the establishment of an independent National Information Commission for the protection, promotion and implementation of right to information.
    • It has made detailed procedures to acquire the information from the concerned agencies.
    • It contains provision relating to fees in detailed manner.
    • It has also provision for the compensation in case of harm or loss occurred as a result of not providing information, providing partial or wrong information or due to destruction of information.
    • It has provision for the protection of whistleblower.
    • For the protection of some sensitive information it carries the provision for classification of the information.
  8. Is right to information only for the journalist (media person)?
    Of course not, right to information is not only for the journalist. It is an individual right of Nepali citizens. This right can be exercised by the citizens from any profession. Due to the nature of the job, journalist enjoy right to information to a large extent.
  9. Who can enjoy right to information in Nepal?
    Every Nepali citizen is guaranteed with right to information as provided by Article 27 of the Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007 and section 3 (1) of Right to Information Act, 2007. Act has provided every Nepali citizen right to request and obtain information held in public agencies.
  10. What is meant by 'Public Agencies'?
    'Public Agency' is an agency which provides public service and performs the function of public importance. Section 2 (a) of Right to Information Act, 2007 has listed following agencies and institutions as public agencies.
    • Agencies under the Constitution;
    • Agencies established by the Act;
    • Agencies formed by the Nepal Government;
    • Organizations and Foundations established by the law to provide public services;
    • Political Party or Organization registered under the prevalent law;
    • Organized Institution under the full or partial ownership or under control of the Nepal Government; or organized body receiving grants from Nepal Government;
    • Non-governmental organization or institution operated obtaining money directly or indirectly from the Nepal Government or foreign Government or international organizations or institutions; and
    • Other agencies or institution mentioned as public agency by the Nepal Government publishing notification in the gazette.
  11. What are the responsibilities of public agencies?
    Public agencies have crucial role for promoting and protecting right to information. They are required to fulfill certain responsibilities. In accordance with the Section (4) of Right to Information Act, 2007 responsibilities of public agencies are:
    • To respect and protect citizen's right to information;
    • To classify and update information;
    • To publish and broadcast the information;
    • To ensure citizens' access to information simple and easy;
    • To conduct its functions openly and transparently;
    • To provide appropriate training and orientation to its staffs etc
    Public agencies may use different national languages and mass media while publishing, broadcasting or making information public.
  12. What are the responsibilities of Political Parties and NGOs in relation to the right to information?
    Nepalese law on right to information has included both political parties and NGOs under the scope of public agencies, so both agencies have certain kinds of responsibilities. They have responsibilities to make their functions transparent; publish and make information available when it is requested by citizens etc.
  13. What kinds of information shall public agencies proactively disclose and, why?
    Public agencies are required to publish certain kinds of information relating to their agencies even if it is not demanded by an individual. Section 5 (3) of the Right to Information Act, 2007 has made the list of information of following categories that should be proactively disclosed:
    • Structure, nature duties, responsibilities and powers of agency;
    • Number of employees and job description;
    • Service to be provided, branch and responsible officer of the service providing agency;
    • Fee and time limit required for service;
    • Decision making process and officer;
    • Authority to hear appeal against decision;
    • Description of functions performed;
    • Name and designation of chief and Information officer;
    • List of Acts, Rules, By-laws or Guidelines;
    • Updated Description of income and expenditures, financial transactions and;
    • Other particulars as described
    Public Agency has to update and publish abovementioned information within 3 months from the date of commencement of this Act and in every 3 months afterwards. 

    Public agencies are required to disclose above listed information themselves because it is related exclusively to the concerned public agencies. As a consequence of proactive disclosure, people will be informed about the transparency and effectiveness of the duties of public agencies. This also helps people to obtain information regarding the concerned office without submitting any application thereof.
  14. Who is an Information Officer?
    Right to Information Act, 2007 in its Section 6 has a provision for the appointment of 'Information Officer'. In each public agency, information officer is appointed in order to disseminate necessary information to citizen as demanded by them. It is the responsibility of information officer to provide information to citizen in a simple and easy manner. Information officer is also known as 'Information Official'.
  15. What is to be done if the information officer is not available in the Office?
    Due to any reason, if information officer is not available while requesting any information, then application should be submitted to other official designated to provide information. The executive head can also assign information officer as per necessity. In case of the absence of the appointed information officer in the office, at the request of the applicant, the executive head of the concerned office is responsible for providing requested information.
  16. What is an Information Division?
    Public agency, with an objective for systematic dissemination of information, may arrange a separate division which is known as 'Information Division'. The establishment of information division facilities the easy access to information.
  17. How information can be obtained?
    Information can be obtained by contacting the information officer. Nepali citizen who seeks to obtain any information should submit an application to the related information officer. The application must contain personal identity, reason and required specific information.
  18. Do we need to pay fee for the information?
    Yes, we need to pay fee for the information. Section 8 of Right to Information Act, 2007 has provided a provision for it. Similarly, Rule 4 of the Right to Information Regulation, 2009 has prescribed details of the fee required for obtaining information. It has directed information officer to prescribe fee not in manner that discourages applicant but only in a way to receive the actual cost of providing information.
  19. What is the prescribed time frame to obtain information?
    Once application is received it is the duty of information officer to provide the information immediately. In case of the impossibility of providing information immediately, the information officer must mention the reason of it. Information officer must provide that information within 15 days. However, if the requested information is related to personal life and security it must be provided within 24 hours. 

    If the information officer does not provide information; denies to provide information; partially provides information; provides wrong information or does not provide information denying the applicant as stakeholder, then complain can be filed to the executive head of the office by the concerned person within 7 days. The executive head should finalize the complaint registered within 7 days of the necessary investigation and should order the concerned information officer to provide information within 7 days from the date of the finalization of the complaint as per Rule 23 (1) of Right to Information Regulation, 2009.
  20. What to do if public agency decides to reject the information?
    If the executive head of public agency decides not to provide information then the aggrieved person can appeal to the National Information Commission within 35 days of the decision received. Commission may order the concerned executive head to provide information to the aggrieved party, if appeal is found reasonable.
  21. What is National Information Commission (NIC)?
    National Information Commission (NIC) is an independent commission established for the protection, promotion and implementation of right to information. Section 11 of the Right to Information Act, 2007 has provision regarding National Information Commission. There shall be Chief Information Commissioner and two other Information Commissioners comprising at least one female as Commissioner.
  22. What are the functions, duties and powers of NIC?
    NIC has several functions along with duties and powers to perform for the protection, promotion and implementation of Right to Information. Section 19 of the Right to Information Act has provided the functions, duties and powers of the Commission which are mentioned below:
    • To observe and study the records and documents of public importance held in public agency;
    • To order for maintaining list of information related with documents and records held in such agency orderly;
    • To order concerned public agency to make information public for citizen's notification;
    • Prescribe timeframe and order concerned public agency to provide information demanded by applicant within that timeframe;
    • To order concerned party to fulfill liabilities pursuant to Right to Information Act;
    • Provide necessary suggestions and recommendations to Nepal Government and various other bodies related to information and communications regarding the protection and maintenance of right to information;
    • To issue other appropriate orders regarding the protection, promotion and implementation of right to information.
  23. What is the status of the decision of NIC?
    The status of the decision of NIC is final. 

    As per the Section 10 of the Right to Information Act, 2007 the person aggrieved by the decision of the executive head of the office can appeal to NIC within 35 days of the notice received. Commission may order the executive head to provide information to the appellant, if appeal is found reasonable. The NIC can dismiss the appeal if found unreasonable. The commission, according to Section 10 (4) of the Right to Information Act, 2007 has to give final verdict on the appeal within 60 days of appeal submission.
  24. What are basis for the legitimate restrictions on right to information?
    Right to information is not an absolute right. The Right to Information Act, 2007 Section 3 (3), has provided the basis for the legitimate restrictions on right to information. Those restrictions include:
    • Information which seriously jeopardizes the sovereignty, integrity, national security, public peace, stability and international relations of Nepal;
    • Information which directly affects the investigation, inquiry and prosecution of crimes;
    • Information having serious impact on protection of economic, trade, or monetary interest or intellectual property; or banking or trade privacy;
    • Information that jeopardizes the harmonious relationship subsisted among various casts and communities and
    • Information that interferes on individual privacy and security of body, life, property or health of a person
    However, the flow of information cannot be restricted without any appropriate and adequate reasons.
  25. What are the punishments for the misuse of the information?
    Information received should not be misused. If any person who obtains any information from any public agencies misuses the information not using it for the purpose it was obtained for, then considering on the seriousness of misuse of information, the commission may impose a fine ranging from NRs. 5000 to NRs. 25000.
  26. What are the punishments for the officer who does not provide information?
    It is punishable act not to provide information or to disseminate wrong information in accordance to law. If the commission finds that the executive head of public agency or information officer has held back information without any valid reason; denies providing information; provides partial or wrong information; or has destroyed information; the Commission has the right to impose a fine ranging from NRs. 1,000 to 25,000 to such executive head or information officer. 

    If such executive head or information officer is in a position to be punished by department, NIC may write to the concerned agency for the departmental action according to Section 32 (1) of the Right to Information Act, 2007 and such departmental action must be taken within three months against that executive head or information officer by the concerned agency. Similarly, if the executive head of public agency or information officer delay to provide information to be provided on time without reason, they shall be punished with a fine of NRS. 200 for each day the information is delayed to provide as provided by the Section 32 (2) of Right to Information Act, 2007. 

    However, Section 34 of Right to Information Act, 2007 provides that if any person is not content with the decision rendered by NIC, s/he may appeal to the Appellate Court within 35 days of the decision received.
  27. What is the punishment to the person who does not follow the decision of NIC?
    The decision of Commission is binding to executive head, information officer and information seeker as provided by the Section 32 (5) of Right to Information Act, 2007. It provides that any person who does not abide with the decision or order of the Commission is fined up to NRs. 10,000.
  28. What does Whistleblower mean?
    'Whistleblower' is an employee of public agency who provides information on any ongoing or probable corruption or irregularities or any deed taken as an offence under the prevailing laws. The information receiver is under a duty to keep the identity of the whistleblower confidential.
  29. Why whistleblower must be protected?
    Public official is the one who has the probability to witness the misuse, corruption, abuse of any information on any related issues of his/her agency. If such employee does not provide information on any ongoing or probable corruption or irregularities then citizen would never be aware of such fact. So, in order to control irregularities and corruption and promote transparency, whistleblower must be protected. 

    Section 29 (3) of the Right to Information Act, 2007 has protected whistleblower mentioning that no harm and or punishment should be made to bear any legal responsibility to the whistleblower for providing such information. The whistleblower may complain to the commission if such harm or punishment is done, along with demand for the compensation.
  30. Does Public Agency need to protect the personal information?
    It is the duty of the public agency to provide the information requested by public. However, it has also the duty to respect the privacy of the individual. Public agency contains several information and data related to the citizen. For example, Land Revenue Office contains information relating to ownership of the land of citizens, hospitals keep information related to citizen's health and treatment. Therefore, public agency must protect such personal information of citizens. 

    In Nepal, there is absence of specific laws on data protection. However, the Section 28(2) of the Right to Right to Information Act, 2007 has tried to address the legal vacuum for the protection of personal data. It has restricted to provide personal data without the written consent of the person whose data has been demanded. Nevertheless, information related to serious threat to life and body of any persons or public health or security, information to be disclosed according to the prevailing laws and information related to the offence of corruption can be disclose without the written consent.