Demand for extending Right to Information law to divisional, PATA and FATA

Peshawar: Participants at an awareness seminar have highlighted the significant of promulgation of Right to Information law in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, demanded the law to be extended to divisional headquarters, Provincially Administrative Tribal Areas Pata and Fata.

“The access to information is basic right of every citizen, which can be ensured by implementation of Right to Information Law in KP. The RTI law has been promulgated while keeping in view best practices at the international level, and the credit goes to new elected Pakistan TehreekeInsaf led government to make important legislation under the global commitment and constitutional requirements, said Azmat Hanif Orakzai, Secretary Information Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while speaking at the seminar as chief guest on Tuesday.

The seminar on titled: Right to Information Legislation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Way Forward” was arranged by Centre for Governance and Public Accountability Centre CGAP, a nongovernmental organisation in collaboration with Centre for Peace and Development Initiative CDPI here at a local hotel. Representatives from nongovernment, members of civil society, legal experts, and representatives from other relevant stakeholders were participated in the seminar.

Zahoor Ahmad, Executive Director CGAP, explained the basic objectives of the holding of the seminar and highlighted the role of civil society organisation and media for creation of awareness among the general masses about the RTI law in KP.

Participants have thoroughly discussed the recently promulgated Right to Information ordinance 2013 in KP, asked the government to take effective steps for its proper implementation, called for launching a specific awareness campaign about this important law in the province. Most of laws were not properly enacted due to certain reasons and implications, they viewed.

The speakers recommended: “The government should rectify all those impediments and obstacles with consultation of relevant stakeholders, and legal experts before tabling in the provincial legislation assembly in shape bill”. They further suggested that the law would enable to get access to document of public sector institutions, so it should be extended to divisional headquarters, Provincially Administration Tribal Areas and Federally Administrative Tribal Areas as well.

Azmat Orakzai informed that the PTIled government had framed a charter of good governance under which more than 11 laws would be promulgated in the future, including right to service, conflict interest, accountability Establishment bill, and importantly Right to Information ordinance 2013.

While highlighting the salient features of RTI ordinance 2013 in KP, he informed that a information commission would be constituted, saying that a retired justice of Peshawar High Court, practicing lawyer, eminent citizens recommended by Human Right Organisation, and a retired bureaucrat would be appointed as its members. He informed that the case will be disposed off with maximum 20days otherwise the relevant officers would be faced penalty and fines due to not provision of required data or information in fixed days under the RTI law.

Mr Orakzai supported that the suggestion of extending RTI law to PATA and Tribal region. But, he informed that the recently promulgated RTI ordinance 2013, will not be implemented on Pata, Fata and federal public institutions and line agencies.

Zahid Abdullah from CPDI, while addressing on the occasion said he said an ordinary citizen would get access to information to documents of the public institutions, which was earlier very difficult for everyone.

Giving suggestion for further improvement in RTI ordinance 2013, he recommended that Peshawar High Court, should also bring under ambit of this law, while the penalty for the denial of data or information under the RTI ordinance by the relevant officer, would also increased from Rs.250 to per daily salary basis. Javed Akhtar, from Swabi Society for Welfare Association SWWA also spoke on the occasion.

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