Right to Information

Declaring as classified, Cabinet Division declines to share information about Tosha Khana

ISLAMABAD: Citing legal restrictions, the Cabinet Division has declined to entertain an information request about the Tosha Khana claiming the information are covered under the “Exclusion of certain record” of Section 7 (f) of the Right of Access to Information Act 2017, barring it to be shared with the public.
In response to a notice issued by the Pakistan Information Commission on an appeal of a citizen Waseem Elahi, the cabinet division wrote a letter containing copies of starred questions asked by an MNA and Senator along with the reasons on which the requested information were denied.
The letter also attached a letter issued by the Prime Minister’s office, declaring the requested information as classified.
Cabinet division’s letter also have a copy of a decision of the President and the findings of Federal Ombudsman in support of the classified claim.
The citizen had requested information under the Right of Access to Information Act 2017 about gifts deposited in ‘Tosha Khana’, names of recipients of these gifts, value and type of each gift and how many “complaints and inquiries of fraud/theft/lost/misappropriation/embezzlement regarding these gifted items are currently in progress and concluded in the last 30 days.
The Pakistan Information Commission has issued an interim order with the direction to cabinet division to submit recorded reasons for exempting the requested information from sharing with the public.
The commission in its interim order stated that the unsigned, undated and unreferenced letter containing copies of above-mentioned documents cannot be treated as official communication.
The Minister-in-Charge of the Federal Government shall have to record reasons as to why the harm from disclosure of information outweighs public interest and further that information pertaining to allegation of corruption and violation of human rights shall not be excluded, the order reads.
The appeal is fixed for hearing before the Pakistan Information Commission on August 27, 2020.
In another appeal, the PIC has issued show cause notice to the controller of Stationary and Forms Department over none compliance with the order of the commission.

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