‘Govt should table RTI law without further delays’
ISLAMABAD: The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI), a non-government think tank, has urged the government to table the right to information (RTI) bill without further delays and that such a law is called for in the Constitution in the chapter regarding fundamental rights and is the right of the people of the country.
The right to information bill was approved by the Senate Committee on Information and Broadcasting on July 15, 2014 but could not be passed as law despite many efforts by the civil society.
On January 16, 2016 the federal government announced the establishment of a special committee for reviewing the bill and there has since been no information regarding the committee’s deliberations or recommendations.
Talking to Dawn, Zahid Abdullah, who heads CPDI, said that there is no progress yet on the legislation when the PML-N government has been through half of its tenure.
“Unnecessary delays in the passing of the law is also giving rise to doubts over whether there is something wrong with any of the government’s projects and if that is the reason such an important bill is not being passed,” Mr Abdullah said.
“Making the bill a law is also in the interests of the government. There are so many rumours going around about mega projects. If we had a right to information law, people will have a right to correct information and it will do away with rumours and allegations,” he continued.
A statement issued by the think tank on Tuesday says the passing of the bill is being delayed by the ruling party with various explanations and that this time, the government has claimed it wants to protect sensitive information.
The statement reads: “The bill approved by the Senate committee contains sufficient safeguards to protect… sensitive information from disclosure. In fact, this bill has been praised by local and international right to information experts as one of the best laws in the world.”
Delays in the enactment of the law have raised questions about the government’s commitment to transparency, the statement continues.
The statement terms these delays ‘ironic’ as the ruling party had in the Charter of Democracy, which was signed on May 14, 2006 vowed to enact a right to information law and repeal the Freedom of Information Ordinance of 2002.
“It is the duty of the federal government to put in place an easy, cost effective mechanism so that citizens can, exercising their right to information, know how the federal government is putting to use national resources by getting certified information from public bodies,” the statement reads.