RAWALPINDI: In a landmark order, the Punjab Information Commission (PIC) has directed the Shalimar Club Rawalpindi to provide requested information to citizen under the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act, 2013 as a public body.
The Commission also directed the club management to designate a Public Information Officer under Section 7 of the RTI Act, 2013 and to proactively disclose basic information through its web-site as envisaged under section 4 of the Act to ensure transparency and consequent.
The PIC also ordered to provide the requested information within seven working days after the receipt of the order.
According to details, in Jan 2020, this correspondent made a request to Shalimar Club, situated in Rehmanabad area of Rawalpindi, to provide information regarding the games’ facilities in the club and revenue generated by the club through commercial and other activities, under the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act, 2013.
After the passage of stipulated time period mentioned in the law, this correspondent approached the Punjab Information Commission.
Shalimar Club, in response to a notice issued by the PIC, claimed that the club is a private entity and does not fall under the ambit of the Public body.
In response to the claim of the Shalimar Club, this reporter provided a letter submitted by Shalimar Club to Municipal Corporation Rawalpindi to the commission.
In the said letter, the Secretary of the club himself had declared that the club is a government institution presided by Deputy Commissioner (DC) Rawalpindi.
Non-Serious Behaviour of DC Rawalpindi
The commission, in exercise of its power conferred under Section 6(3) of the RTI Act 2013, directed the deputy commissioner (DC) Rawalpindi to inquire into the matter and submit his report about the exact status of Shalimar Club.
The report submitted by the ADC (Hqr) Rawalpindi to the PIC states that “As per statement and documents provided by the management of Shalimar Club, the said club is being managed privately while no funds are provided by any government sector”.
However, PIC in its order has expressed resentment over the non serious behaviour of the DC Rawalpindi and stated that the DC, who was primarily responsible to himself respond to the commission, did not bother to submit his own report.
While the report of ADC (Hqr) was simply reproduction of the version of Shalimar Club vice president and some unknown documents produced before her but not mentioned in the report, hence the report is consequently a piece of paper without any moral or legal value, Order states.
Faraz Fazal Shah, legal advisor of Club, in its reply to the commission stated that DC Rawalpindi holds the office of the club’s President only on honorary basis to enhance the sports activities but without any significant role in the management of the club.
The Club Pays Only Rs4 per Year to Government
Order of the commission reveals that land of the club is the government property and was leased in favour of Shalimar Club in 1962 by that times Punjab Governor through District Rehabilitation Officer at the rate of yearly rent Rs 19 which came @ Rs 1 per kanal, per annum.
As stated even now under revised rates, it is Rs 4.19/- per kanal per annum which has no comparison with the lease rates of properties of same value in the surrounding of Shalimar Club Rawalpindi.
The favorable rate of rent does amount to substantial financial support of the government as envisaged under section 2(h) (vii) of the RTI Act 2013.
It is pertinent to mention that Shalimar Club is located at Satellite Town, Murree Road, Rawalpindi which is a prime location of the city.