Peshawar: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Information Commission is currently facing a backlog of 1,500 appeals, and the pendency is increasing with each passing day.
The Commission has requested the KP government to make key amendments in the KP RTI law, but the file containing the proposed amendments has gone missing. The amendments are related to the quorum issue of the commission, as the commission can’t issue orders with only one information commissioner in charge.
It is imperative that a new information commissioner is appointed immediately. These were the remarks made by Ms. Farah Hamid Khan, Chief Information Commissioner, KP Information Commission during the launch of the study, ‘Comparative Analysis of Right to Information Laws’ in Pakistan.
Ex CIC Claims PTI Govt. Lacks Commitment to Implement RTI Law
Sahibzada Khalid Khan, ex Chief Information Commissioner of KP Information Commission, stated that the RTI movement has lost its momentum as the PTI government was not very serious in its implementation during its previous tenure.
He also stated that any attempt to exempt the parliament from the ambit of Pakistan Right of Access to Information Act 2017 should be thwarted. All public bodies, including the superior judiciary, that are run through citizens’ tax money, should be covered under the RTI law.
Mr. Hanif Orkazai, ex Chief Information Commissioner, stated that although the incumbent KP commission is not wholly dysfunctional, bureaucratic hurdles have been created in the appointment of the information commissioner.
Mr. Kalimullah Khan, ex Information Commissioner, expressed his disappointment with the situation, stating that it is disheartening to see how the KP Information Commission has been rendered useless by not appointing information commissioners.
CGPA Highlights Need for RTI Laws in AJK and Gilgit Baltistan
During his presentation of the study, Mr. Muhammad Anwar, Executive Director CGPA, stressed the need for the enactment of RTI laws in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, as well as in Gilgit-Baltistan. He pointed out that Indian-held Kashmir has a robust RTI law, but the citizens of AJK are still not provided with this fundamental right.
He also stressed the importance of establishing the Balochistan Information Commission under the Balochistan Right to Information Act 2021. In his presentation, he stated that Balochistan law is the weakest of all RTI laws in Pakistan as citizens must show a reason for accessing information from public bodies, and the implementation mechanism is weak.
He also pointed out that Sindh’s RTI law requires a compulsory review process before citizens can file a complaint with the Sindh Information Commission. He proposed amendments to the KP RTI law, such as doing away with the quorum of information commissioners for deciding appeals, including legal persons as applicants, including the superior judiciary in the definition of public bodies, and appealing against the decisions of the information commission at the Peshawar High Court.