Right to Information

CDA reluctant to public info about properties leased to Shifa Hospital, FAST varsity and others

ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) is reluctant to disclose information about the properties given on lease to individuals and organizations including Shifa International Hospital and FAST University.

In July 2021, this reporter filed an information request under the Right of Access to Information Act commonly known as “RTI Act” and requested the CDA to provide information about properties / land given to the non-governmental organizations / private organizations on lease or rent and copy of the agreement signed with the Shifa International Hospital Trust.

However, until date the CDA failed to respond to the information request; therefore, this reporter filed an appeal to the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) requesting the commission to initiate proceedings against the public body for not responding to the information request.

PIC conducted multiple hearings on the appeal and each time the legal counsel of the CDA appeared before the commission and requested more time to provide the requested information.

On Friday, PIC passed its final verdict on the said appeal and has held that the requested information is a public record under the Section 5 (e) and 6 (b) of the RTIAct.

The PIC order authored by Chief Information Commissioner, Mohammad Azam states that: “the Commission also expresses concerns over the non-serious behaviour of the respondent, as despite making commitments multiple times to provide the requested information to the appellant during the hearings held in Pakistan Information Commission, the public body is reluctant to provide the requested information to the appellant.”

PIC has directed the CDA to provide the requested information to this reporter within 7 working days.

Purpose of the Act is to ensure the Transparency in the business of the Government. If directions of the commission in this Order are not followed, it will be left with no option but to invoke Section 20 (f) of the Right of Access to Information Act 2017, PIC order reads.

Moreover, PIC in another order, copy available with the Reporters, has imposed fine on the designation officer of the Ministry of Railways for wilfully delaying / denying the provision of the information to a citizen requested under the RTI Act.

The Secretary, Ministry of Railways is directed to deducted ten days salary from the salary of May, 2022 of Director Admin, Ministry of Railways and submit compliance report to the Commission.

Saddia Mazhar

Saddia Mazhar, an accomplished Investigative Journalist hailing from District Sahiwal, Punjab, possesses a fervor for unveiling impactful narratives. With a demonstrated history of hosting radio shows, web TV programs, contributing to esteemed publications, and steering digital media platforms, she stands as a notable figure in the field. Connect with her on Twitter @SaddiaMazhar. She can be contacted at thesaddia@gmail.com
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