Right to Know

Assets details of bureaucrats: Establishment Division challenged PIC decision in IHC

ISLAMABAD: The Establishment Division has challenged the order of the Pakistan Information Commission regarding the details of the bureaucrats who are not submitting their assets declaration regularly in the Islamabad High Court.

According to details, the PIC had directed the Establishment Division to public the list of the officers who have not submitted their assets declarations during their whole service, and the details about the action taken against them.

The Division was also directed to share the list of the officers whose cases are sent to any investigation agency for verification regarding the increase in their assets.

The Commission issued order in pursuance of a complaint of this correspondent.

Through a writ petition [copy is available with The Reporters] the Establishment Division has challenged the order of the commission, stating that PIC’s order is not maintainable in law, adding that the impugned order passed by the PIC without hearing the petitioner is not maintainable on facts and law and liable to be set aside accordingly.

In-ground of appeal, the Division stated that the “Asset declaration form” of civil servants includes a column regarding record of bank accounts and financial institutions, which record is excluded from the purview of the act ibid vide Section 7(d).

Therefore, the information sought by the individual from the PIC did not fall in the definition of public record as per Section 6 of the RTI Act.

Similarly, the record relating to personal privacy of any individual is excluded from the purview of the Act vide Section 7 (g) of the Act.

Answering a question of the appellant that “whether it is a fact that a large number of government officers are not submitting their assets declaration regularly as required by the law, if yes, please provide the details of the action taken against them”.

In response, the public body stated that this information is exempted from disclosure under Section 5 and Section 16(c) and (i) of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017.

To questions regarding the list of the officers who have not submitted their assets declaration during their whole service and list of the officers whose cases are sent to any investigation agency for the verification of their assets, the Division stated even such list is prepared by the concerned employer, it does not fall in the definition of a public document in terms of Section 6 of the RTI act.

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