No right to know
Despite the fact that this is a compulsory requirement under the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013 (RTI) passed last December by the provincial assembly, the government has not yet established a Punjab Information Commission (PIC) or Press Information Officers (PIO) in any public body. Under the Act, the government is required to frame rules under which the PICs would be set up in all public bodies. This has yet to happen. The stance taken by the Punjab information secretary that a draft had been sent to the chief minister suggests only the dragging of feet we see too often.
The attitude reflects what lies behind the laws passed by our assemblies. Although these are in themselves often good, and on paper aim at solving the problems that exist in our set-up, the problem is that in reality, they are rarely implemented or not followed through on. This is what seems to be happening in Punjab. The issue that we see reflects a lack of concern on the part of the government for free access to information and denies the people their basic right to know. This right is, in fact, the foundation stone around which democracy is built. The fact that so little attention is being given to bringing it into effect is disturbing.
The lack of transparency in public bodies has contributed to corruption and wrongdoing within them over the years. A law such as the one signed and sealed by the Punjab Assembly could help prevent this and also give us, as citizens, a better insight as to how our government operates and what it is engaged in. Such measures improve governance and the delivery of services to citizens. It is a pity that there has been so lax an attitude about turning it into reality and working towards this by writing out the necessary set of rules that would allow greater openness to go into place and enable people from all walks of life to look a little deeper behind the curtain that hangs around the government and the chambers within which it carries out its functions.