Most people unaware of right to information, says Justice Malla
Kathmandu, September 28
Supreme Court Justice Sapana Pradhan Malla today said that although the constitution had guaranteed the right to information as a fundamental right of citizens, most people were unaware of this right.
Speaking at a programme organised to mark International Day for Universal Access to Information by the National Information Commission in Kathmandu today, Malla said, “Most citizens are not aware of their fundamental right to information.
Officials have turned information into a commodity that citizens need to buy from them, which is a reflection of how corrupt these organisations are.”
According to Transparency International, over 100 countries have granted the right to information to their citizens in their constitution. But most of them have not informed their citizens about it.
“The constitution grants the right to information, right to privacy, and right to freedom of opinion and expression to its people, but often these rights are lumped up together,” she said.
Speaking at the programme, Chairperson of Press Council Nepal, Borna Bahadur Karki, pointed out that most constitutional rights were only exercised in the capital, while rural areas were neglected.
“All citizens of the country, whether those living in the capital or in other parts of the country, have the right to know about the activities of governmental bodies. Special initiatives must be taken to ensure that our citizens living in the rural areas also have the opportunity to exercise this right,” said Karki.
“Women are more likely to be deprived of their right to information than men in our country,” said advocate Yashoda Devi Timilsina.
Although the state has allocated 21 per cent of its budget for women empowerment, many are not able to exercise this fundamental right, she said.
Chairman of FNJ Mahendra Bistha said, “The general public must be informed of their right to information, and a culture of asking and providing information must be developed in our country.”
On the occasion, seven people were honoured and awarded with Rs 30,000 for their contribution to implementation of the right to information.