VOL 18 NO -213 REGD NO DA 1589 | Dhaka, Friday June 10 2011
Privacy Act versus Right to Information Act
M S Siddiqui
Democracy is a pre-condition for good governance and effective democratic institutions are essential for democratising the society, ensure human rights and free flow of information. Democracy cannot flourish in the absence of good governance. The economic development is also linked to democracy. Democracy works properly with transparency and accountability. The free flow of information has a precondition to protect state security, personal and private secrecy for safety and peaceful private life.
GDP of Bangladesh has been growing at about six per cent for last two decades and second generation citizens are living in the cities. They are economically secured and the lifestyles changing steadily in slow pace and citizens now prefer individualism. They are trying to have private life with out interference of relatives and neighbors.
On the other hand, privacy is a fundamental human right. It underpins human dignity and other values such as freedom of association. It has become one of the most important human rights of the modern age. It is protected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and in many other international and regional human rights treaties. Nearly every country in the world includes a right of privacy in its constitution. In many countries, international agreements that recognise privacy rights such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or the European Convention on Human Rights have been adopted into domestic law.
The society recently experiences a serious violation of privacy of private life of a girl. The actress cum model girl did an immoral act of having physical relation with boyfriend before marriage and the boyfriend did the same immoral act and again did a crime by revealing video footage of their acts in internet.
There was a debate over discloser of information of resources and transaction of certain political leaders and business tycoons during last caretaker government (before RTI Act 2009) to the joint forces for prevention of corruption.
Government use to publish list of loan defaulters and Central Bank use to disclose certain information regarding loan and related issued breaking the confidential banker-customer relationship. The credit Information Bureau (CIB) of Bangladesh Bank is working on disclosing the information through web site for use of everybody. This is also not ethical and beyond the limit standard disclosure.
The individuals or other organisations for the purpose of investigation, employment or any other obligation are obliged to reveal certain personal information. It is uncertain whether the information is legitimately authorised by certain laws of the land. Employees in Government or corporation should be told whether personal files are kept on them and whether unauthorised persons may have access to those files. Many organisations have a policy to allow access to employee information. Employees may deserve guarantee of secrecy and standard policy of access to the data or information.
The courts proceedings are open to the public and sometimes access is restricted or information suppressed to protect a witness or in the administration of justice. The historic judgment against contempt of court against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (during her previous tenure of 1996-2001) was shown to her counsel only without any open verdict. The Prime Minster got the privilege as head of the government, not the individual citizen Sheikh Hasina.
Some evidence of victims of sexual offences shall be kept secret to honor privacy of the persons involved. The proceedings of Family Court for divorce, child custody shall be in closed door and will be restricted to access of related few...