Freedom of thought, conscience and speech is recognized in the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh as one of the fundamental rights and right to information is an inalienable part of freedom of thought, conscience and speech; and whereas all powers of the Republic belong to the people, and it is necessary to ensure right to information for the empowerment of the people; and Whereas if the right to information of the people is ensured, the transparency and accountability of all public, autonomous and statutory organizations and of other private institutions constituted or run by government or foreign financing shall increase, corruption of the same shall ...view middle of the document...
During its two-year tenure, the interim government promulgated an ordinance namely Right to Information Ordinance on October 20, 2008. This is really a cornerstone in the way to free flow of information in Bangladesh. In fact, it is a demand of era. Perhaps, recognizing the ground reality, the present government, with minor changes, passed the Right to Information Act (RTIA) in the parliament on March 29, 2009.
The Right to Information Act and Loopholes Within
Before going to the practice of the freedom of information in Bangladesh, there are still many loopholes and challenges ahead, which this paper examines, either within the government process or outside. In particular, the government can bar the disclosure of information under the Official Secrets Act 1923, Special Power Act 1974 and the Rules of Business 1979. Further, the country itself is facing numerous challenges as like illiteracy, poverty, lack of technology or communications media, political freedom and so on, which require prior solutions to the right to information.
Exemption from Disclosure of information
Information categorized under exemption from disclosure of Information includes,
1. Information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence.
2. Information which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court.
3. Information, the disclosure of which would cause a breach of privilege of Parliament or the State Legislature.
4. Information including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information.
5. Information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information.
6. Information received in confidence from foreign government.
7. Information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes.
8. Information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders.
9. Cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers; Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over; Provided further that those matters which come under the exemptions specified in this section...