PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Commission (RTIC) first chief information commissioner Sahibzada Mohammad Khalid will retire after the completion of his tenure today (Wednesday).

Mr. Khalid was appointed to the post after the Right to Information (RTI) Act was enforced in 2013.

The RTI Act 2013 was the PTI-led KP government’s first major legislation after formation.

Azmat Hanif being tipped as Sahibzada Khalid’s successor

A source told Dawn that the retiring commissioner met the chief secretary few days ago and thereafter, the planning and development department began collecting details of the CIC’s tenure and other commission members.

He said that one of three RTI commissioners was also likely to complete his tenure within next two months. The official said chief commissioner of the Right to Service (RTS) Commission Azmat Hanif was being tipped as the new CIC.

Information secretary Mohammad Tahir Hassan told Dawn that the information department had asked the establishment department to provide its names of candidates meeting the criteria, which they will send to the chief minister for appointment of next CIC.

He said some days ago, non-governmental Centre for Governance and Public Accountability (CGPA) had sent a letter to chief minister asking to form a select committee of both the opposition and treasury benches in the provincial assembly to appoint next CIC.

The CGPA letter to chief minister a copy of which is available with Dawn notes that the tenure of incumbent CIC was to expire in August 2016.

The letter notes that following the retirement of incumbent CIC two aspects required the chief minister’s attention: first, the new CIC is appointed well in time and any delay in appointment of new head of the commission was likely to adversely affect RTIC functioning and second, crucial aspect was the appointment of the CIC who has the required qualification and ability to carry forward the efforts so far put into implementation of the RTI law in the province.

“It has been learned that many desired candidates have already fetched their CVs for this position,” it said, adding that there is a clear conflict of interest if the new CIC or any member of the RTIC is appointed with the support of any political figure or any government department.

The letter said the most suitable way would be to form a search and selection committee of both government and opposition members from the KP assembly to appoint new CIC. CGPA Executive Director Mohammad Anwar told Dawn that the RTI Act was silent about appointment of new CIC.

“It would not be illegal if the government does not appoint a new CIC,” he said.

Mr. Anwar said by delaying appointment of key officials, if it wanted, the government could ‘kill’ the commission.

Currently, the KP RTI Act 2013 is silent about the appointment of new CIC and a bill to amend the existing act is pending with the law department for past several months.

The amendment bill proposes insertion of a sub section (10) in the section 24 providing that information commission shall initiate a case for filling the expected vacancy due to retirement of an Information Commissioner or CIC, as the case may be, 120 days before the due date and send it to the government which shall fill the vacancy within 30 days of occurrence of this slot.

While a new sub-section (11) says that In case of occurrence of any vacancy otherwise than by retirement, the Commission shall initiate a case for filling the vacancy within fifteen days and the Government shall fill the vacancy within one hundred and twenty days of the occurrence of the vacancy.

Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2016



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