Landmark victory earned through RTI
The historic court ruling that disqualified an elected politician
COLOMBO – The Free Media Movement organized a public discussion forum at 6:00 p.m. via Zoom Technology on Saturday (25) to mark International Day for Universal Access to Information celebrated on September 28.
The landmark verdict obtained against an elected local councillor found guilty of bribing voters in the Moneragala District was the core of the public discussion. The interest in the discussion was stimulated with timely and relevant sharing of critical information on the matter by an eminent panel consisting of Rohana Hettiarachchi, Executive Director of PAFFREL (People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections), Dr. M .T. M. Mahees Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology, University of Colombo, Yogeshwari Krishnan, Project Manager, Social Development Institute, Kandy, and Suranga Rupasinghe, Project Manager, Kantale National Cooperative Development Foundation.
Commenting on the landmark verdict, Hettiarachchi said after receiving reports of voter bribery by the Moneragala Madurakele Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) candidate in 2018, PAFFREL, in collaboration with the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV), filed a petition in courts using information obtained through the Right to Information (RTI) Act. This resulted in the landmark ruling regarding the local government election.
The Moneragala High Court in a judgement delivered on September 13, 2021, deemed the SLPP Monaragala Pradeshiya Sabha (PS) candidate to have won the seat by bribing voters, ordered the local councillor to vacate his seat, declaring his election null and void. Hettiarachchi said this was the first victory obtained over election fraud using the RTI Act
Dr. M.T.M. Mahees commenting on ‘How Civil Society Can Learn Lessons’, reiterated that citizens have the right to accurate information, which various media institutions distort. Therefore, the Right to Information is a reasonable means for the citizen to obtain the correct information.
Dr. Yogeshwari Krishnan shared the challenges and successes of using the Right to information in the plantation sector by the people in the upcountry, while, Suranga Rupasinghe elaborated on the challenges faced by the rural community when using the Right to Information Act.
-Free Media Movement