Govt urged to scrap ‘secrecy’ from govt officials’ oath

Members of National Information Commission celebrating its 11th annual day, in Kathmandu, on Sunday. Photo: THT

Kathmandu, May 5 The National Information Commission has urged the government to scrap the term ‘secrecy’ from the provision of ‘oath of office and secrecy’ to further strengthen citizens’ rights to information.

As per the existing law, each government official is required to take the ‘oath of office and secrecy’ before assuming office. Speaking at a programme organised in Kathmandu today to mark the 11th anniversary of the NIC, Chief Information Commissioner Krishnahari Baskota said the tradition of administering the oath of secrecy to the government officials was against citizens’ fundamental rights to information.

He said that continuing with the provision in a democratic system reflected ‘authoritarian culture’ during Rana and Panchyat regimes.

“The practice of administering the oath of office to civil servants has encouraged government and its authorities to hide information from the public,” Baskota said. He also objected the practice of stamping the seal of ‘confidential’ and ‘highly confidential’ on government documents and appealed the citizens to exercise their constitutional rights to information.

Earlier today, the NIC ogranised a morning rally to highlight the importance of obtaining information of public concern from the government authorities. The rally began from Bagbazaar and passed through Putalisadak and Anamnagar before ending at its office in Devinagar, Baneshwor. Participants at the rally displayed banners and placards reading various slogans related to the rights to information.

Information commissioners Kiran Kumar Pokharel and Yashoda Devi Timsina were also present at the rally.

The NIC was established in 2008 as an independent body under the Rights to Information Act. It is responsible for the protection, promotion and practice of RTI in Nepal. The NIC consists of one chief information commissioner and two information commissioners besides other staffs. Currently, NIC has 32 staffs.