Requesting information under RTI Act
Q: Under the Right to Information Act, can we obtain the duties and responsibilities of an officer attached to a State institution.
A: The Section 5 of the Right to Information Act No.12 of 2016 specifies when the right of access may be denied. The Information Officer can refuse providing information if the requested information comes under Section 5 of the Act.
As per the Act, you can request information from the relevant Institution. If the Information Officer is refusing to provide information, then you can appeal to the Appeal Officer at the same institution. If the Appeal Officer is also refusing, you can appeal to the Right to Information Commission at Room No. 203, BMICH, Colombo 07.
There is a separate form (RTI 1) to be filled by the person who request information and can obtain assistance of the Information Officer to fill the form. You can even ask for the information by sending a mail or fax. However, the Information Officer will do the needful to fill the RTI -1 form.
Obtaining extracts of damaged folios
Q: When we apply to obtain extract of folios from the relevant Land Registry, sometimes we were informed that extracts requested are damaged and unable to deliver. Is it possible to obtain folio from any other place?
M. A. H. M. Waffa
A: If the folios at the Land Registry are damaged, then there is no other place to apply for it. However, you can find the relevant deeds and build up a connection on transactions, but it doesn’t provide all information.
Compensation for negligence
Q: If a man dies due to the negligence of a district engineer in a Municipal Council, can anyone file a compensation case against him?
M. A. H. M. Waffa
A: Yes. A compensation case can be filed in the District Court where the incident has taken place, against the engineer for his negligence. You can make the Municipal Council also a party and you have to prove that the death occurred due to his negligence. This case has to be filed within two years.
Fees to obtain information under RTI Act
Q: Do I have to pay a fee to obtain information under the Right to Information Act?
A. N. Cassim
A: You don’t have to pay a fee to request for information. But you have to pay a fee for the information mentioned in Gazzatte No. 2004/66 dated 03.02.2017.
Fees for Information: Unless otherwise prescribed, the following fees may be charged by a Public Authority for provision of information in response to a RTI request:
(a) Rs. 2/- (one side) and 4/- (both sides) of one paper, for the information provided on A4 (21 cm x 29.7 cm) and smaller size paper
(b) Rs. 4/- (one side) and 8/- (both sides) of one paper for the information provided on paper that is legal size (21.59 cm x 35.56 cm) and up to A3 (29.7 cm x 42 cm)
(c) Information provided on paper bigger than those mentioned above will be at actual cost.
(a) Rs. 4/- (one side) and 8/- (both sides) of one paper, for the information provided on A4 (21 cm x 29.7 cm) and smaller size paper
(b) Rs. 5/- (one side) and 10/- (both sides) of one paper for the information provided on paper that is legal size (21.59 cm x 35.56 cm) and up to A3 (29.7 cm x 42 cm)
(c) Information printed on paper bigger than those mentioned above will be at actual cost.
(iii) Rs. 20/- for copying information onto a diskette, compact disc, USB mass drive, or similar electronic device, provided by the citizen making the request.
(iv) Actual cost for copying information onto a Diskette, Compact Disc, USB mass drive, or similar electronic device provided by the Public Authority.
(v) Rs. 50/- per hour for the study or inspection of any document or material, or inspection of a construction site, if this takes longer than one hour, with the first hour of study/inspection being provided free of charge. This shall be without prejudice to the practice of public authorities which previously provided such inspection free of charge and which practice shall continue not withstanding this sub-rule.
(vi) Samples or models will be charged the actual cost.
vii) Information provided via e-mail will be free of charge.
Issues on arbitration
Q: I am a law student following a Diploma in Arbitration. Canarbitration take place out of Colombo? What is the difference between ad-hoc and institutional arbitration?
A: Under Arbitration Act No. 11 of 1995, arbitration of a dispute can take place in any part of the country.
However, under the Arbitration Act enforcement, applications under Section 31 (1) has to be made to the High Court and challenges to Arbitration awards under Section 32 should also be made to the High Court. Incidental applications should also be made to the High Court.
The High Court referred to in the Act has been defined under Section 50. "High Court" means the High Court of Sri Lanka situated in the judicial zone of Colombo or situated in such other zone, as may be, designated by the Minister with the concurrence of the Chief Justice by Order published in the Gazette.
In the circumstances, until such time, the Provincial High Courts are designated by the Minister with the concurrence of the Chief Justice even if arbitration takes place in a place other than Colombo. The relevant High Court before an application for enforcement should be made is the Colombo High Court.
Arbitration when administered by an institution according to the rules of the institution accepted by parties to the arbitration is designated as institutional arbitration.
When no specified institutional rules are referred to in the Arbitration Agreement, the arbitration that takes place proceed on an ad-hoc basis on rules agreed by the arbitrators at the time of arbitration.
In many circumstances of ad-hoc arbitration, parties and arbitrators informally follow accepted model arbitration rules such as those of the UNCTAD. The advantage of institutional arbitration is that the responsibility for organizing the arbitration is entrusted to arbitration institutionally.
Permission to construct a house near a canal
Q: My friend intends to construct a house near a canal. How can he get the permission to construct the house and from where?
A: Your friend has to forward an application to the local authority of the area where he intends to construct the house. They will inquire about the minimum reservation to be kept for operation and maintenance purposes of the canal by Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation.
Thereafter, the Local Authority will inform the minimum canal reservation to be maintained.