Right to Information

Pakistan Information Commission rejects appeal as time-barred

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) has dismissed an appeal filed by Dr. Saeed Ahmed against the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL), citing that it was time-barred and cannot be entertained.

The Commission’s order – also available on its website – states that the appellant failed to file the appeal within the prescribed period under the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017, and did not provide any reasons for the delay.

According to details, Dr. Ahmed sought information about the insurance and early retirement details of his late brother, among others.

The respondent (OGDCL) raised an objection regarding the limitation of the appeal, citing that the appellant had submitted the request to the public body on 07-07-2022, whereas the appeal was filed on 21-10-2022, after more than a hundred days. The respondent referred to Section 17 of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017, which provides a period of 30 days for filing an appeal if the appellant is not satisfied with the decision of the designated official or if no time is fixed for such.

Furthermore, the respondent submitted that the required information was not only exempted from disclosure but also not related to the answering respondent. Exemptions under Section 7 (d) (g) (h) and Section 16 (c) of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017 were also sought in the written reply.

The Pakistan Information Commission‘s order states that since the question of limitation was raised at the very outset, it was proper to decide the said question before proceeding further.

Under Section 17 of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017, an applicant who is not satisfied with the decision of the designated official within the time fixed may refer an appeal to the Information Commission within a period not exceeding 30 days after either receiving the decision or after the time limit for such a decision has passed.

PIC Order states, in the present case, the appellant submitted the application to the public body on 07-07-2022, which remained unanswered. The law provides a period of 10 days to the public body to provide the required information to the applicant from the date of receiving the said application.

The further time of 10 days is allowed by the law if relevant information is likely to be traced out, meaning that the period of 20 days would be excluded from the 30 days provided for filing an appeal.

PIC held that the present case was filed by the appellant on 27-10-2022, whereas the appellant was required under the law to file the appeal till 29-08-22. According to the law, the delay of each day is to be explained by the appellant. However, in this case, the appellant neither filed an application for condonation of the limitation application nor provided reasons for the delay.

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