Right to Information

RTI activists demands online hearing to save time

Expressing displeasure over extreme delay in addressing their complaints, RTI activists have asked the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa RTI Commission to start online hearing of the cases to save time and ensure timely provision of information.

Showing concerns over delay in addressing complaints pending with RTI commission, the activists say The KPRTIC takes upto two years in taking cases to its logical conclusion. They said that if Commission can’t decide cases and provide information on the described times, it kills the spirit of RTI laws.

Muhammad Naeem – RTI activist – in his letter written to the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information commission stated that a number of his complaints are pending with the commission for few years. He further went to say that his few complaints such as complaint number 05619, 06350, 06351 and 06352 which are against the Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan are pending with the KP RTI Commission for last over two years.

In his letter, he wrote to the chief commissioner that he waited for years to get information for which law promises and guarantees to be provided within 20 working days. In his letter, he said that the extreme delay in concluding the appeal has also encouraged the Public Information Officers (PIOs) not to entertain RTI requests.

He requested the KP RTI commission to start online hearing of the appeals to save time and many and kept the spirit of RTI law alive. Justifying his demand, he said that the Supreme Court of Pakistan has already shown path the to the nation and appellate bodies of the various departments by hearing cases through video conferencing. He said that the KP RTIC should also start hearing on its web platform which they find suitable.

He said online hearing will also ensure to entertain requests and provide information to the citizen in the partial lockdown in the backdrop of Covid-19. “If you like you could consider using Whatsapp video calls which can have up to four participants. You could give instant orders and send them by Whatsapp apart from putting them on website. Everyone including your steno could join from their house”, he maintained.

It is pertinent to mentioned that like other fields of life the “Right to know” of the citizen is also badly affected by the by Covid-19 as all four information commissions that include Sindh, Punjab, Federal and KP RTI commission have stopped conducting hearing of the appeals (complaints) and which cause delay in deciding the appeals timely.

Nadeem Umer – a journalist and RTI activist – said, he also has many complaints that are pending since long before the KP RTI commission one of them is against the Mansehra Press Club, but the commission is failed to decide the case even after the passage of more than one year.

He added, extreme delay in concluding the complaints by the commission is killing the spirit of RTI laws.

The KP RTI Act 2013 gives the right to the citizen of Pakistan to avail information from any provincial department. According to the section 11 of the said act, the public body shall be required to respond to a request for information in accordance with section 7 as soon as possible and in any case within ten working days of the receipt of information request.

In case the public body do not respond to the information request of the citizen, the appellant has the right to lodge under the section23 of the acct and section 23(3) of the act bounds the information commission to decide any complaint within a period of sixty (60) days. But there are large number of the cases that are pending before the KP RTI commission since one or more than one year.

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