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The Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal 1990

The Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal, 1990 was the first constitution to recognize right to information as a basic fundamental right. It was fifth constitution in the constitutional history of Nepal. Article 16 of the constitution guaranteed this right to its citizens.
 

Article 16: Right to Information

Every citizen shall have the right to demand and receive information on any matter of public importance. Provided that nothing in this Article shall compel any person to provide information on any matter about which secrecy is to be maintained by law. 

The 1990 constitution which was the outcome of the peoples' movement 1990 succeeded to protect peoples' right to know by guaranteeing access to information as a fundamental right but state never took initiative to enact legal instruments necessary to exercise that right. Due to lack of specific laws, activists and stakeholders approached the Supreme Court a number of times. The Supreme Court issued directive order to the government to enact statute on right to information as soon as possible. Similarly, the Supreme Court issued a set of procedural rules for obtaining information until such law is enacted by the government. However, relevant law was not enacted for long time.
 

Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007

The Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007, the result of Peoples' Movement 2007 also recognized the right to information under fundamental rights. Article 27 of the Interim Constitution guarantees the right to information. It provides that every citizen has the right to seek and receive information of a personal nature or relating to matters of public importance, provided that no one shall be required to provide information confidentiality of which has to be maintained according to the law. This provision is identical with the Article 16 of the 1990 Constitution.
 

Article 27: Right to Information

Every citizen shall have the right to demand or [seek] obtain information on any matters of concern to himself or herself or to the public. Provided that nothing in this Article shall be deemed to compel any person to provide information on any matter about which confidentiality is to be maintained by law. 

Thematic Concept Paper and Preliminary Draft under the Committee for Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles, Constituent Assembly, 2009-10 

With Constituent Assembly election, Constituent Assembly was formed on May 28, 2008. Different thematic committees are formed under Constituent Assembly with the objective of drafting a new constitution. Committee for Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles has submitted its draft for the new constitution. It has ensured Right to Information as: 

Every citizen shall have the right to demand or obtain information on any matters of concern to himself or herself or to the public. Provided that nothing in this Article shall be deemed to compel any person to provide information on any matter about which confidentiality is to be maintained according to law. 

This provision is similar to the provision of the existing constitution. Constituent Assembly members have failed to follow the international standard on Right to Information on the one hand and identify the problems with the existing provision on other. This provision clearly shows that protection under this right is available to citizens of Nepal only. As a part of universally recognized right, right to freedom of expression and opinion extends its scope to the people, not just citizens. Therefore, in the context of Nepal, the scope of right to information must extend to everyone, not just citizens in the new constitution. 

Similarly, these constitutional provisions provide access to personal information and information of public importance only. Such a limitation gives public authorities ample of space to refuse to provide the information. Provision in the new constitution must state that people have access to all information held by public bodies subject to internationally recognized limitations. 

For the full text of the constitution, please follow the link. 

» The Interim Constitution of Nepal 2007 
» The Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal, 1990 

You can also access previous constitutions of Nepal at www.sambidhan.org