The Punjab Information Commission (PIC) has fixed hearing against Anti-Corruption Establishment Department Rawalpindi for not providing information to a citizen under the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act, 2013, the Reporters has learnt.
The hearing was fixed by the PIC after the news regarding months long delay in provision of information by the anti-corruption department was published on the Reporters website some two days ago. The PIC has called the concerned officer on February 9 next month, states the hearing notification.
According to details, Nadeem Omar, a resident of Rawalpindi, had dispatched an application [September, 2020] to the Anti-Corruption Establishment Rawalpindi seeking information about the recovery from the government employees and number of cases registered against them under the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act, 2013.
However, more than four months have passed and the requested information could be provided to the citizen.
The citizen also approached the Punjab Information Commission (PIC) against the anti-corruption department, but the case could not make any progress.
Nadeem Omar said that after months of dispatching his information request to the concerned department, he received a phone call of Anti-Corruption Establishment, Rawalpindi Director Kanwal Batool few days back and she asked him to ‘submit Rs30,000 for information documents’ as the department doesn’t have enough finance to provide copies of each requested documents.
When the citizen asked her to issue a letter or send an email mentioning the required cost of the documents and other obligations, the concerned directors got annoyed and started inquiring about the profession he is working for and at what position.
The citizen when tried to convince the concerned director that every citizen of Pakistan has the right to get information of his or her interest from any public sector department under the right to information law and there is no obligation for the citizen to share his/her professional details.
In response, the director said [as you can hear in the uploaded video] let me see how you get a single paper from the department under the right to information act.
Nadeem Omar said that the resistance of the Anti-Corruption Department in providing information was justified but on the other hand the Punjab Information Commission was also reluctant to take action against them despite several complaints.
When this correspondent contacted the Punjab Information Commission office to take their viewpoint, an officer on condition of anonymity said that the anti-corruption department had issued a notice to the concerned department on Omar’s complaint. The commission will decide on the complaint in accordance with the law, he added.
It is to mention here that this correspondent made many calls on the official number of the director of the anti-corruption department to know his position, but no one picked up the phone.
Meanwhile, the residents of KP are also facing difficulties in getting information from the KP anti-corruption department. Hamad Nawaz, a reporter for private News channel, said that he had sought information from the Anti-Corruption Department Malakand-office about the recovery of elements involved in various corruptions during the last five years.
The KP Information Commission also directed the local Anti-Corruption department to submit a reply to Hamad Nawaz’s complaint. After more than a year, the KP Information Commission summoned the Public Information Officer of Malakand Anti-Corruption Department for non-provision of information in which ASI Muhammad Riaz appeared before the Commission on behalf of the department.
The commission granted him another seven days during the hearing. Despite the lapse of more than two months from the deadline given by the commission, neither the department has provided information to Hamad Nawaz nor has any action been taken by the commission.