Right to information
I SEEK a clarification from information czars, the ministry of law and experts on citizens’ right to information. Can a citizen seek information from the Presidency relating to expenses incurred on the President House, his official visits, and the various secretaries and staff deputed for the ceremonies and upkeep of his establishment?
All this is paid for from the state exchequer, hence the citizens ought to have a right to know these facts under Article 19A of the Constitution. In response to a citizen’s question about the President’s Haj entourage and expenses, the Presidency has responded by saying that “the constitutional and statutory provisions indicate that the president’s secretariat is neither a ‘public body’ within the meaning of the Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002, nor an ‘agency’ within the meaning of P.O.1 of 1983. Hence, the Wafaqi Mohtasib does not have any jurisdiction under P.O.1 of 1983 or the Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002.”
In almost every civilised country, the FOI law is applicable to any office or organisation that is established by the government, which performs a public function or is funded by the government.
The presidency meets all these three conditions and, hence, its claim for exemption from the FOI law appears highly unreasonable and violative of citizens’ fundamental right.
Could this matter be publicly clarified?