Right to Know

Can provision of record about govt spending on VIPs protocol be a security breach?

 

 

Islamabad: The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Information Commission (KPIC) while accepting an explanation call of Mardan police for denying information about the number of police officials deployed on the security of VIPs and security related expenses to a citizen under the right to information law has dismissed the complaint.

This scribe had approached the Mardan police some eight months ago for information regarding the number of police officials and officers deployed on the security of VIPs. However, the Mardan police did not respond to the information request of the citizen under the KP right to information law.

The citizen then approached the KPIC against the police department, which after more than eight months lapse has dismissed the complaint accepting the police explanation.   

According to details, in July 2020, this scribe made a request to the District Police Officer (DPO) Mardan to provide the name of all such individuals who are provided police security, number of policemen deputed on the security of  each person, number of police vehicles or mobiles allocated for this purpose and POL limit permitted & consumed by these vehicles.

After the passage of eight months, the KPIC fixed the case for hearing on January 20 last month. The deputy superintendent police (Legal) of Mardan Police was summoned to appear before the commission, but he did not attend the hearing. However, the Commission received written response of the public body.

Police Response: 

The explanation letter received by the Commission from Mardan police states that security is provided to all authorized officers, including DCs, AC’s, judges, and police high ups according to the ggovernment authorized policies. Similarly, only Police Officers have been provided vehicles/mobiles for security purposes which consume fuel as per Government prescribed limit.

However, the subject information cannot be provided under section 16 of KP RTI Act 2013, “disclosure harmful to law enforcement” where a public body may refuse a request for information, the disclosure of which would be likely to harm the security of any property or system, including a building, a vehicle, a communication system.

Hence, information regarding names and number of police officials and vehicles cannot be shared with the applicant in order to maintain the security, law and order situation.

The Right of Access to information Act, 2017 also exempt to provide the said information vide section 16 information exempt from disclosure, the police explanation document states.

The KP Commission Order

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Commission, on February 2 this month, disposed of the complaint with only two-line order, and the order states that the Commission has decided to forward the reply of the public body to the complainant and with these remarks the instant complaint stands disposed of.

When this correspondent contacted to KPIC spokesperson Shahadat Hussain, he said the number of police officials deputed on the security of VIPs can be a security breach as someone can target them.

To a question regarding the number of vehicles and their fuel consumption related details, Shahadat Hussain said such information can be provided, but if the Commission decided that this part of information is exempted under the right to information law, then defiantly the commissioners had a meeting on this issue and after debate they decided this.

“You can request the commission for the detailed order issued in this regard,” he maintained.

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