RTI Law: Senate body agrees on draft with some amendments
ISLAMABAD: Senate Select Committee on Right to Information (RTI) Law has agreed on the draft of the much-delayed legislation with some amendments.
The committee met in the chair of Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPP) Senator Farhatullah Babar here on Tuesday. The members reviewed all the clauses of the RTI law and decided to give the final approval of the draft in its next and final meeting. The committee proposed some amendments to give more role to the parliamentary panels in implementation on the legislation.
The members were unanimous that no institution, including Parliament, military, judiciary and even those private bodies receiving public funds, should be exempted from the law.
Once sails through the Parliament, the bill will repeal ‘the Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002.’
The proposed legislation recognises the citizens’ right to know under the Constitution and to have access to information about the activities of the government. This will also provide people an opportunity to monitor the performance of the government.
The bill prescribes punishments and penalties for officials violating any provision of the law or those who fail to comply with the legislation.
The bill provides setting up of an Information Commission consisting of three members to be appointed by the Prime Minister for hearing information disclosure-related appeals. The commission will comprise a member of the civil society, a retired judge and a retired bureaucrat of not more than 65 years of age. The commission will have the powers to formulate its own rules and regulations and shall present its report annually to the Parliament.
The standing committees of both Houses of the Parliament on information will have the powers to remove any member of the commission.
The proposed law binds the security institutions to provide in written information within three days in cases concerning with human rights violations or security of a person.
The law provides complete job protection to “whistle-blowers” for pointing out corruption or irregularity in any department and institution.
The bill requires a written justification from any institution or department for not providing certain information about any matter on the pretext of “national security or national interest.”