The Pakistan Information Commission takes Action upon the request of PPF fellow Shezad Ahmed Khan, he filed to have information from Environment protection Agency according to Right to information Act 2017
Taking action over an appeal, the Pakistan Information Commission directed the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) to provide information regarding the monitoring visits conducted by the public body within 10 working days.
The directives were issued after hearing an appeal filed by this scribe against the Pak-EPA’s for not providing the requested information within stipulated timeframe in the Right of Access to Information Act 2017.
According to the decision available with Daily Times, the PIC have received an appeal on August 21, 2019 stating that Pak-EPA was requested to provide the information regarding the monitoring visits conducted by the public body to check the implementation of the environmental laws and regulations, but the department did not provided the requested information within the stipulated time period in the law. The Public Information Officer of Pak-EPA, Sadia Munawar in her letter dated November 8, 2019 stated that Pak-EPA cannot disclose the data/record of private documents either on express or implied condition that information contained in any such document as provided under clause (h) of section 7 of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017. The appellant submitted an application an application for the provision of information under the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017 without fulfilling the legal formalities including non-payment of prescribed fee, she added.
The PIC replied that an applicant is not required to deposit fee for filing request for information according to the Schedule of Costs notified by the commission under Section 27 (b) of the Right to Access of Information Act 2017.
After two notices from the PIC to public body with direction to provide the requested information, hearing of the appeal was fixed on 14/11/19. Rashid Cheema, Law Officer appeared on behalf of Pak-EPA before the commission at the time of hearing and requested for more time to provide the requisite information to the appellant which was allowed till 03-12-2019.
According to the decision issued by the PIC, on the hearing the public body was agreed to provide the requested information to the appellant and requested for more time which was allowed by the commission and was asked to provide the requested information by December 3, 2019. However, Pak-EPA neither provided the requested information nor attended the hearing as per undertaking on the previous date.
PIC directed the department to provide the requested information to the applicant the earliest, but in any case, not later than 10 working days of the receipt of this order.
Furthermore, the Pak-EPA is also directed to take immediate steps to proactively share through the web site all categories of information mentioned in Section 5 of the Right of Access to Information Act 2017 and submit the compliance report to the commission by Jan 16, 2020.
Mohammad Azam, Chief Information Commission PIC, said, unfortunately the public bodies are still practicing the official secret act 1923, and are reluctant to share the information with the public, adding that right to information is key for the citizen to get their fundamental rights.
He said that according to the right of access to information act 2017, the department is bound to provide the requested information.