SAHIWAL: The administration of elite clubs in Pakistan is facing criticism for refusing to provide basic information to the public under the Right to Information laws.
The Sahiwal Club, in particular, has sparked controversy by claiming that filing information requests is a punishable offense and has also challenged the jurisdiction of the Punjab Information Commission.
This claim was made in response to an information request filed by this scribe, which went unanswered by the administration.
According to details, the Sahiwal Club was requested to provide information about the total area of the club, total number of club members, membership criteria, and some other basic information.
Despite the lapse of the stipulated time period, the Club administration did not respond, prompting this scribe to approach the Punjab Information Commission.
In response to a notice issued by the Punjab Information Commission, the Secretary of Sahiwal Club sent a response to the information request, stating that Sahiwal Club is a society registered under the Societies registration Act 1860 and does not fall under the definition of a public body. Therefore, the Commission has no jurisdiction to entertain the appeal/complaint against the club and cannot issue any direction.
“The complainant has filed baseless information based on wrong facts and has required the public functionaries to take action against the respondent. The act of the appellant Sadia Mazhar constitutes an offense punishable under Section 182 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). The Commission is requested to file a complaint against the offender,” the Sahiwal Club’s response states.
False information with intent to cause public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person. Whoever gives to any public servant any information which he knows or believes to be false, intending thereby to cause, or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause, such public servant: – (a) to do or omit anything which such public servant ought not to do or omit if the true state of facts respecting which such information is given were known by him, or (b) to use the lawful power of such public servant to the injury or annoyance of any person, shall be punished with an imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both. Similar requests made to other elite clubs in the country have also been refused, leading to accusations that these clubs are trying to evade transparency and accountability. Section 182 of the PPC
Earlier, the Punjab Information Commission issued an order on the case of Abdullah Malik and Others vs Lahore Gymkhana Club, held that the Club is a public body under the RTI Act and is obligated to provide information to citizens. This order was upheld by the Lahore High Court.
Similarly, in the case of Nadeem Umer vs Islamabad Club, the Pakistan Information Commission also declared the Club as a public body under the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017.