Right to Information

Generally, information means any material in any form including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, proceedings, decisions etc. 

Right to Information denotes the right to request and obtain information of public and individual importance held in public agencies. This term also includes the right to study or observe any written documents, materials held in public agencies or proceedings of such public agencies, to obtain a verified copies of such written documents, to visit or observe the places where any construction of public importance is going on and to obtain verified samples of any materials or to obtain information held in any type machine. 

The terms 'Right to Information' and 'Freedom of Information' are often used interchangeably and have long beenregarded as fundamental Human Rights. Common Article 19 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) recognizes Right to Information as an implied right of Freedom of Expression. Similarly, different countries have guaranteed Right to Information as fundamental rights under their constitution and through specific laws.

Right to Information in Nepal

The Constitution of Kingdom of Nepal 1990 was the first constitution to guarantee the Right to Information as a fundamental right of the citizens. Article 16 of this constitution provided Nepalese citizen the right to demand and receive information on any matter of public importance, except on any matter about which secrecy is to be maintained by law. Similarly, the current Interim Constitution, 2007 has made a similar provision with some expansion on Right to Information in Article 27 as Fundamental Right. The current provision not only provides right to information on matter of public importance but also to the individual information. 

In 2007, Nepal Government enacted Right to Information Act to give effect to the constitutionally protected right to information. Article 3 of this Act provides every citizen right to information and access to the information held in the public agencies. Similarly, this Act has also made a provision of an independent 'National Information Commission' for the protection, promotion and exercise of Right to Information. National Information Commission was constituted on June 14, 2008. Likewise, Right to Information Regulation was enacted on Feb 9, 2009 to implement the Act effectively. Classification Committee under the section 27 of the Right to Information Act, 2007 has classified certain documents for the protection of information.

Importance of Right to Information

Right to Information is the foundation for the enjoyment of all other Human Rights. Right to Information or Freedom of Information empowers people for the enjoyment of all recognized rights and to claim other rights. It also makes public agencies accountable and transparent. Thus, Right to Information has crucial role to establish open and democratic nation. Right to Information is:
  • the symbol of the open society;
  • the foundation for the development of a nation;
  • a key means to achieve good governance;
  • an indispensable tool for the functioning of a true democracy;
  • is a touchstone for the enjoyment of other recognized Human Rights;
  • an important instrument for sustainable development, poverty reduction and empowerment of individuals;
  • decisive tool to empower communities to change their socio-economic, cultural and political life by ensuring their participation in decision-making; and
  • essential to bring transparency in administration and public life.