Right to Information

Civil society condemns DC Narowal’s humiliating response to journalist’s queries

ISLAMABAD: Civil society activists had lamented the humiliating response of Deputy Commissioner Narowal to a journalist’s requests for provision of information regarding women’s property ownership in district Narowal.

Female journalist Saba Chaudhery had requested the DC Narowal to provide data about women’s property ownership in district. However, DC Imtiaz denied provision of the requested information and alleged that many NGOs that remained involved in terrorism related activities use such tactics to get personal information of people. He maintained that only those NGOs that are registered with Home Department could collect data of citizens.

Journalist Saba Chaudhery stated that even though she provided the proof letter of her current organization but the behavior of DC was nothing less than treating her as if she is nothing. She said that instead of providing the requested information, DC Imtiaz used delaying tactics and wrote police matter on her letter and referred to the police matter.

While lamenting the DC’s behavior, Journalist Saddia Mazhar said that the DC’s behavior was very humiliating when Saba visited DC office twice.

She said that the journalist Saba Chaudhery is working with her and she wrote a simple application for the information regarding women’s property ownership.

She added that DC asked her for an official letter from her organization. However, after receiving official letter from her organization, the DC referred the matter to police even it wasn’t as revenue is under commissioner office, Saddia Mazhar concluded.

According to article 19 of constitution of Pakistan, any citizen can apply for official information other than national security issues.

Faheem Akhtar – journalist – stated that DC is a public servant and cannot deny access to information.

Mukhtar Ahmed Ali – former Information Commissioner, Punjab Information Commission – stated that as a public servant DC is bound to provide the requested information instead of leveling unauthenticated allegations against him/her. He said that asking for information is the fundamental and constitutional right of citizens and no one is allowed to deny this right.

Civil rights activist – Zubair Faisal Abbasi – asked that “Which NGO has been involved in terrorism related activities in the past, and what actions have been taken against them?”

Advocate Aftab Alam stated, instead of performing his duty i.e. serving and informing the public, Mr Imtiaz Gondal is hurling unsubstantiated accusations against NGOs.

He added that Punjab Information Commission must take notice of it. People have a right to know & officials are accountable to the public.

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