Right to Information

PIC Orders ECP to Make Caretaker CM, Punjab Appointment Record Public

Islamabad: The Pakistan Information Commission has issued a directive to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to release public records related to the candidature of Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera for the office of Caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab, as well as the Minutes of Meeting of the Election Commission of Pakistan regarding the appointment of the caretaker Chief Minister, Punjab Mohsin Naqvi.

The ECP had earlier refused to provide the information requested by the appellant, former Caretaker Minister Khushdil Khan.

The ECP claimed that the requested information is classified and exempted from disclosure under the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017.

However, the Pakistan Information Commission passed a speaking order on Tuesday after hearing the arguments of the appellant.

The ECP failed to appear at the hearing, despite a notice being issued to the Secretary of ECP, which resulted in the appeal being decided Ex-parte.

The order of the Pakistan Information Commission states that the documents in question are public documents under Article 85 of the Qanun-e-Shahadat Order 1984, and that every public officer having custody of a public document, which any person has a right to inspect, shall give that person a copy of it upon demand. The order also notes that the law does not require the certified copy of a public document to be issued or certified only by the originator or author of the document.

The Pakistan Information Commission noted that the ECP is under obligation to appear before the Commission and seek exemption of the said documents if any provided under Right of Access to Information Act, 2017. The said Commission (ECP) did not bother to appear before the Commission despite the issuance of notices.

Regarding the Minutes of Meeting of ECP regarding the appointment of the Caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab, the exemption sought by the ECP under Section 7(b) (g) and (h) was also turned down.

Since the decision about the appointment of the Caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab has since been finalized, the said Minutes of Meeting do not disclose any individual’s privacy nor are records of private documents furnished to the public body.

The commission has directed the Secretary, ECP to furnish the certified copies of all the three documents requested by the appellant within ten days.

Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui, Chief Information Commissioner, PIC, during the hearing, remarked that the Commission would ensure disposal of appeals within 60 days as per the act.

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