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Introduction

Right to Information Act, 2007 is specific legal instrument to regulate Right to Information in Nepal. The Act was enacted by the parliament on July 18, 2007 to give effect to the constitutional guarantee of right to information provided under Article 27 of the Interim Constitution, 2007. It empowers citizens to have access in the individual information and information of public importance held by public agencies.

The Act ensures the right to information to its citizens, subject to certain exceptions. Scope of the Act extends to political parties and Non Governmental Organizations also. Likewise, the Act provides for the establishment of National Information Commission (NIC), which is the one of the major organ for the implementation of the Act.

Objectives

This Act is enacted with certain objectives to transform the Nepalese society, state governance system, and to address the interest of the citizens. The objectives have been identified to:
  • make the functions of the sate open and transparent in accordance with the democratic system
  • make responsible and accountable to the citizen
  • make the access of citizens simple and easy to the information of public importance held in public bodies
  • protect sensitive information that could make adverse impact on the interest of the nation and citizen
  • for the necessity to have legal provisions to protect the right of the citizen to be well-informed and to bring it into practice, the 'Legislature-Parliament' has enacted this Act

Key Features

Right to Information Act, 2007 is the result of the continuous effort and pressure of the civil society group of Nepal. This law has carried internationally recognized basic principles of right to information. Some of the positive aspects of the Act are as follows:

Key features of the Act are:
  • Proactive Disclosure: Principle of right to information stipulates that public agencies are required to disclose certain key information by themselves even in the absence of any request. Such requirement is termed as proactive disclosure. Section 5 of the RTI Act requires public agencies to update and publish different information by themselves on periodic basis.

  • Protection of whistleblower: Section 29 of the Act is another remarkable aspect of this Act which protects whistleblowers. According to that provision it is the duty of employee of public agencies to provide information on any ongoing or probable corruption or irregularities or any deed taken as offence under the prevailing laws. It protects the whistleblower whereby it mentions that no harm or punishment is done to bear any legal responsibility to the whistleblower for providing information. Furthermore, even if any punishment or harm is done to the whistleblower, the whistleblower may complaint, along with demand for compensation.

  • Scope of the Act extends to Political Parties and Non-governmental Organization: Another noteworthy aspect of this Act is that it covers political parties and non-governmental organizations in its section 2(a) within its scope and they are also responsible to provide the information like other public agencies.

  • National Information Commission: This Act has made a provision for the establishment of an independent National Information Commission for the protection, promotion and practice of right to information in its section 11. National Information Commission has been already established in accordance to this Act on June 14, 2008.

  • Timeframe and procedures for providing information: Section 7 of the Act has made detailed procedures to acquire the information from the concerned agencies. In addition, those agencies are required to provide information immediately and if they are not in the position to provide immediately then within 15 days of the application.

  • Compensation in case of harm or loss occurred as a result of not providing information: Section 33 says that if any person incur losses and damages due to not providing information, denying to provide information, providing partial or wrong information or due to destruction of information then such person are entitled to get compensation.

Procedures to obtain information

The Act stipulates the procedures of demanding the receiving information. Any Nepalese citizens can submit application before concerned Public Information Officer by stating reason to receive such information. Public agencies are required to provide the information immediately and if the nature of the information is such which cannot be provided immediately, then such information must be provided within 15 days of the application. Similarly, information officer are needed to provide the information in the format asked by the applicant.

Applicants can be charged certain fee for the information they request. However such fee cannot extend beyond the cost amount incurred for producing that information.

In case the Public Information Officer fails to provide the information requested or provides partial information or false information, applicant can file a complaint to the Chief of the respective office within 7 days.

Individual who is not satisfied with the decision made by the Chief can appeal to the National Information Commission within 35 days of the notice of decision received. On such appeal, the Commission has to give final verdict within 60 days of appeal submitted.

Exceptions on certain kinds of information

Right to Information Act, 2007 has classified five kinds of information which are not supposed to be disseminated realizing the interests of the state and individual. Information that cannot be disclosed are of following nature:
  • Information that seriously jeopardizes the sovereignty, integrity, national security, public peace, stability and international relations of Nepal.
  • Information directly affects the investigation, inquiry and prosecution of crimes.
  • Information having serious impact on the protection of economic, trade or monetary interest or intellectual property or banking or trade privacy.
  • Information that jeopardizes the harmonious relationship subsisted among various cast or communities.
  • Information that interferes on individual privacy and security of body, life, property or health of a person.

For the full text of the Act, please read English and Nepali.
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