Right to information

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The Right to Information (RTI) article 19-A was inserted in the constitution under the 18th amendment for the people of Pakistan to get all information in matters of public importance but subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by law. The Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recently passed an ordinance “The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Ordinance,2013″ (RTI) by the governor of the province and not by the provincial assembly and a launching ceremony was arranged for it to guide the legal fraternity, civil society, bureaucrats and politicians regarding this new law in a lavish hotel of the province.

Provincial Government claimed that this is the success of PTI to pass this law in the province which is recognized worldwide, however, the law passed by the governor has not yet been put on floor of the KPK Assembly. The law limited the ‘Right to Information’ for the citizen as now no court will interfere in the matters of information when an aggrieved person approaches them in either Constitutional Petition under article 199 or a civil suit as there exist an alternate remedy and proper forum created by the provincial government.

This will create number of complications for the petitioner and he has to wait long to collect the information from the public authorities.

Missing Persons is a very common issue these days and thousands of petitions are pending in the High Courts and Supreme Court of Pakistan. The people who are under suspicion of law enforcing agencies and are detained by them, after interrogation very few are set free; some remain missing for long period of time. RTI has now exempted the agencies to come up with the information regarding the persons who are confined with them as the disclosure will be harmful to the law enforcement agencies ( Section 16 can be referred). To sum up the argument, I would suggest that public body or department can be approached for information but the complaint/appeal should be left to the civil courts to lessen the burden on the public exchequer and the ordinance should be positively discussed on the floor of the assembly for constructive alteration and thereafter be passed as an act.

SAIFULLAH MUHIB,
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

The Nation

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