Bill to permit disclosure of public officials’ property

Right to Privacy

- Post Report, Kathmandu

The State Affairs and Good Governance Committee of Parliament on Tuesday agreed to amend the Bill on Right to Privacy so that public officials disclose their property details and certificates issued by legal entities.

The move follows widespread criticism of a number of provisions in the bill, including allowing civil servants and officials to keep their property details and academic qualifications secret and barring photographs in public places without prior approval.

Sudarshan Khadka, secretary at the committee, told the Post that the body had agreed unanimously to ask officials to disclose their records to the public.

However, two other laws—the Corruption Prevention Act and the Judicial Council Act—have to be revised before changing the provision requiring public officials, including judges, to make their property details public.

Although Cabinet ministers have volunteered to disclose their property details since the early 1990s, in line with a Cabinet decision at that time, the Corruption Prevention Act allows them to keep their property details a secret.

The Judicial Council Act has a provision that says the judges have to submit their property details to the Judicial Council.

But the same law permits keeping those details confidential.

Former minister Sher Bahadur Tamang, who headed the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, had proposed amending the two laws, arguing that it would ensure transparency on part of all public officials, including the judges.

Meanwhile, lawmakers have also agreed to not preventing journalists from taking photographs of public events and public officials without prior approval, according to Khadka.

The committee secretariat will now prepare a report based on the consensus reached on Tuesday, and submit it to the committee for further discussion.

Published: 2018-09-12 09:02:37