BDNews24.Com reports A new law, aiming to ensure people's right to know, came into effect on Tuesday with the government publishing the Right to Information Ordinance 2008 by gazette.
The ministry of law published the gazette dated Oct 20, one month after the interim cabinet gave the final approval to the ordinance on Sept 20, empowering the public to access information of certain public offices and non-governmental organisations.
Organisations funded by taxpayers' money and NGOs run on foreign funds are required by the ordinance to ensure people's right to information.
The ordinance stipulates that officials sitting in new posts be created in most government offices and NGOs to provide people information in most cases within 20 days of receiving applications.
But, officials are required to give primary information within 24 hours on certain matters of death, arrest and release from jail, says the new law, which has long-been demanded by the media, civil society and rights groups.
The government will appoint staff at the suggestion of the commission to discharge its responsibilities across the country.
The ordinance provides for a three-member autonomous information commission headed by a chief information commissioner, mandated with a four-year term, to enforce the law and deal with complaints from information seekers.
The president will appoint the chairman and members of the commission at the suggestion of a five-member selection committee headed by a Supreme Court judge.
The others who will be sitting on the commission will be two lawmakers from the treasury and opposition benches of the parliament nominated by the speaker, the cabinet secretary and a government representative.
The ordinance does not cover the six security agencies, or a list of about 20 instances of exemption from disclosure of information.
The new law aims to promote transparency and accountability, reduce corruption and facilitate good governance in government offices and NGOs.
People will have the right to seek information from public offices in a prescribed form with a fee. The public offices will also maintain certain types of information which people can get on demand.
People living below poverty line can apply on white paper without paying fee.
Individuals may file appeals with the information commission on being refused information.
The officials may be penalised for such refusal.