Kathmandu, May 16
The National Information Commission has, in a roundabout manner, issued orders to the government and the Legislature-Parliament to provide easy entry to the general public to Singha Durbar, the government secretariat complex.
In its order, the NIC has cited the preamble of the Right to Information Act, 2007 which states that the general public should be provided easy access to information of public importance retained by the public bodies to make the state accountable to the citizens by making works open and transparent.
A joint tribunal comprising NIC Chief Commissioner Krishna Hari Baskota and commissioners Kiran Kumar Pokharel and Yasoda Devi Timsina on May 15 issued the order to this effect in the name of the government and the Parliament.
“This order has been issued as per Clause 19 (h) of the Right to Information Act, 2007 in the name of the Chief Secretary of the Government of Nepal and the Secretary-General of the Legislature-Parliament to make arrangements for citizens to register application seeking information, keeping in contact with the information officers and get the information sought by filing a complaint with the office chief of the offices located inside the Singha Durbar complex in accordance with the Right to Information Act, 2007 for putting in place an appropriate system to make access of the general public to information retained by the public bodies inside Singha Durbar easy and simple,” reads the order issued by the tribunal.
The NIC likewise has issued orders also to the bodies and officials concerned to make provisions that are deemed appropriate for the unfettered exercise of citizens’ right to information, saying restriction to enter Singha Durbar has obstructed the general public’s right to information.
The NIC issued this order in response to an application RTI campaigner and Chairman of the Freedom Forum Taranath Dahal filed at the commission on March 27, demanding that the members of the general public should be provided easy access to Singha Durbar.
Similarly, 216 youths associated with the ‘Open Singha Durbar’ campaign from Lalitpur, Sindhupalchowk, Chitwan, Nawalparasi, Sindhuli, Dolakha, Nuwakot, Rasuwa, Terhathum among other districts on May 5 registered an application at the NIC, seeking easy access of the general public to Singha Durbar.
In the joint application bearing their signatures, the 216 youths had also demanded that NIC issue orders to the officials concerned to provide easy access to the general public to Singha Durbar, citing that citizens have been deprived of right to information.
A version of this article appears in print on May 17, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.