By Kurulu Koojana Kariyakarawana
The Right to Information Commission (RTI), which heard an appeal made by journalists requesting information related to expiry dates of the tear gas canisters used by the police in recent protests, yesterday warned to notice Police Chief, if the latter does not provide correct data within ten days.
The RTI Commission yesterday heard the case for the second day, which was taken up for hearing on September 1st following an appeal made by independent journalist Tharindu Jayawardena against the Police Department for not furnishing information related to the expiration dates of the tear gas canisters used to defuse the recent spate of protest campaigns of the Galle Face Aragalaya.
The Commission comprising of the three commissioners retired Judge Rohini Walgama, Attorneys Kishali Pinto Jayawardena and Jagath Liyanarachchi during the last hearing, questioned the police reasons for not facilitating the requested information by the journalist for the concerns of life risks and personal independence.
Journalist Tharindu Jayawardena told the Daily Mirror that he had made several RTI applications to the Police Department requesting for the mentioned details in the past couple of months but was not responded to by the latter.
Representatives from the Police Field Force Headquarters, Police Supplies Division and Police Legal Division who took part in the first hearing told the commission that they do not possess such information as they usually destroy such data every five years.
The police however agreed to provide whatever the details regarding the procurement, purchasing and the expiration dates of the tear gas canisters in the next hearing, which was scheduled for yesterday.
But when the information was provided to the commission yesterday, Journalist Jayawardena pointed out that they were far from the truth and incomplete and requested the commission to inform the police to provide the actual information.
When the commission inquired about this the police representatives said that the full details have to be obtained from the different divisions as they are not kept in one place.
To this the commission questioned whether the Police Chief IGP has to be noticed as the overall head if the representatives of the different divisions would not comply with the commission’s orders.
The police had then agreed to provide the full details pertaining to the RTI application in ten days time and the next hearing was scheduled for October 6th.
Acting Director of Police Supplies Division with Commandant Police Field Force Headquarters and Inspector from Police Legal Division attended the hearing whilst Attorneys Suren D. E. Perera and Manushika Cooray participated on behalf of Journalist Tharindu Jayawardena.