Govt yet to pass Right to Information Bill
ISLAMABAD: Despite passage of almost one-and-a-half years and various assurances on different public forums including the parliament, the government still has no intention to present the Right to Information (RTI) Bill before the cabinet for its approval.
The draft law of RTI was approved by the Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting on July 15, 2014. However, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Pervaiz Rashid says soon the bill will be presented before the federal cabinet.
The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, (CPDI) has lamented the failure of the government to introduce the RTI Bill in the parliament. “The government’s dilly-dallying on the issue of RTI legislation needs to be seen in the context of the Charter of Democracy signed in 2008 in which the party committed that Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002 will be repealed and that a new Right to Information law will be enacted,” the CPDI said in a statement.
Similarly, a Canada-based Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD) that does international ranking of the RTI laws in different countries has examined the draft bill to conclude that it will be the best law in the world pushing Pakistan atop in the country-wise ranking from the bottom position allocated due to the existing Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002, introduced by Pervez Musharraf.
A senior parliamentarian told The News the government looks in no hurry to pass the bill in its tenure. It seems it would pass the bill at the end of its tenure so that it should not face any harm.
The source said the RTI Bill has full support of not only political parties but also civil society. However, the government is dragging this issue and adopting delaying tactics to deprive the public of its right to have access to information, he added.
The federal information minister had promised on the floor of the house that soon the bill would be presented before the federal cabinet for its approval in July 2015. However, despite passage of even five more months, the bill has not been presented.
When contacted, the minister said the government is very much interested in passing the Right to Information Bill. He said the government has to face many challenges during the recent past due to which the RTI Bill could not be presented before the cabinet.
“Recently, we were about to present the bill in the cabinet meeting but the earthquake in the country diverted the government’s attention towards this issue. “However, soon they would send the draft bill to each member of the cabinet and later it would be presented for approval,” he claimed.
He, however, once again gave no cut-off date for presenting the bill before the cabinet and then in the parliament.