ISLAMABAD: Deputy Commissioner Islamabad Hamza Shafqat has been directed to share details regarding the Covid-19 funds and their utilization with a citizen under the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017.
The Pakistan Information Commission (PIC), through a verdict, has also directed the deputy commissioner to share the same information on the ICT website and also designate a Public Information Officer to make sure timely provision of information to the citizens under the RTI law.
According to details, Nadeem Umer, a local resident, had approached the deputy commissioner office to get information about the funds it received from the federal government, donor agencies and their utilization details.
The applicant had also requested the DC for the details of expenditure related to support of coronavirus affected individuals placed in isolation by the ICT administration and total fine imposed by the ICT administration during the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, the applicant didn’t receive the requested information from the DC office and approached the PIC.
In pursuance of the appeal filed by the citizen, the Commission issued a notice to the DC and also conducted hearing of the case, but the DC office neither responded to the notice nor attended the hearing of the case.
The verdict authored by Chief Information Commissioner, Mohammad Azam, states that requested information belongs to the category of information which public bodies are legally bound to proactively disclose, through their web sites, under Section 5 (g) and Section 6 (b) of the Right of Access to Information Act 2017.
This commission is of the view that the wilful delay or denial of the requested information causes undue cost to citizens and the commission. Citizens have to approach this commission for the exercise of their fundamental constitutional right of access to information which involves cost both in terms of money and time, Order states.
The five pages verdict of the commission further states that 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.
According to Section 20 (f) of the act, the commission has the power to impose fine on an official equivalent to his salary for one days, for a maximum of one hundred days, who has acted wilfully to obstruct any activity which is required to be undertaken by this act, including preventing or delaying the disclosure of information to an applicant.
PIC also directed the DC Islamabad to notify the Public Information Officer, (PIO), under Section 9 of the Act and put the notification and contact details of the PIO on its web site as required under the right of access to information act 2017.