Senators okay Right to Information Bill
ISLAMABAD – A Senate Select Committee yesterday approved the Right to Information (RTI) Bill 2016.
The committee met with its Chairman Senator Farhatullah Babar in the chair at the Parliament House and discussed all clauses of the draft bill in detail.
It also added a new clause relating to get footage from CCTV installed at public places. The clause was suggested by PTI Senator Shibli Fraaz.
In its previous, the committee decided that the proposed Information Commission would consist of three members — a grade 22 officer, a retired judge and a representative of civil society. The PM will have the authority of the appointment of three members of commission. The Senate and National Assembly Standing Committees will have power to remove the members. The commission members age limit has been capped at 65-year at the time of appointment.
It was also decided in the meeting that the RTI Bill 2016 will not be applied to 20 years old record.
The committee had decided the appointment of staff above grade 16 in Information Commission would be made through Federal Public Service Commission, instead of Chief Information Commissioner and Commissioners.
Talking to the media after the meeting, Farhatullah Babar said that the common persons will be able to get access to information through this bill. He said that parts of information could not be made public in the name of national security. He said if the security agencies arrest a citizen and kill him, it will not be considered an issue of the national security. The Bill will be helpful in case of missing persons.
Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb told the media that the government, parliamentary committees, lawyers and members of civil society made a sterling contribution to the draft bill that would be presented in the next session of the parliament for formal enactment of the law.
She said that the law regarding access to information and democracy were inseparable as they reinforced each other.
The bill seeks to ensure transparency in all areas of government responsibility and betterment in governance. This law is already in force in some provinces.
The minister reiterated that the Information Commission contemplated to be set up under the proposed law would be an independent and autonomous body. She however pointed out that the Access to Information Bill would accord protection to the matters related to national security and interests as well as those that could affect Pakistan’s relations with other countries. Senators Syed Shibli Faraz, Rubina Khalid, Pervaiz Rashid, Ilyas Bilour, Mushahidullah Khan, Mukhtiar Ahmed Damrah Ejaz and Javed Abbasi also attended the meeting.