Govt asked to present Right to Information bill
ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting on Wednesday directed the government to present the Right to Information (RTI) bill in parliament at the earliest, as it has already been delayed for 18 months now.
“If the bill which was approved by this committee is not presented in the House before the next meeting of the information committee, then I will present my own bill in the Senate,” the committee chairman, Senator Kamil Ali Agha, said.
He added that the bill had been at the Prime Minister’s Secretariat for over a year “without any reason”.
To this, Senator Saeed Ghani said the reason for this was to avoid responsibility after the bill was approved.
“They are just waiting and I can guarantee that the RTI bill will be presented in the house just before the current term of the Assembly expires in 2018,” he added.
Since Information Minister Senator Pervaiz Rasheed was not in the meeting, there was no reply from the treasury about the delay.
The draft RTI bill was approved by the Senate Committee on Information in August 2013, however, the information minister has not yet presented the bill in Senate.
In February of last year, Senator Pervaiz Rasheed had assured the committee that the bill will be taken up by the federal cabinet at its next meeting.
The committee also discussed the case of BOL TV and members criticised all concerned including the ministries of interior and information and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) for being biased in the case.
The committee inquired about a letter by the information ministry written in May 2015 which suggested that Pemra suspend the operating licence given to BOL TV because there were reports that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was to hold an inquiry against Axact group, the parent company of BOL.
“If there are accusations or chances of an inquiry by FIA against a company, its channel should be shut down,” Senator Ghani said.
Information Secretary Imran Gardezi said that the letter was written in ‘national interest’ which then invited questions about what the information ministry has to do with checking up on national interest.
Senator Rubina Khalid then asked Pemra chairman if the regulatory authority has a right to suspend transmissions just because the information ministry wanted it to.
It was decided that the matter will be discussed at the next meeting and that efforts will be made to release the salaries of BOL employees.