Chief Information Commissioner Mohammad Azam addresses a presser in Peshawar on Wednesday. — APP
Chief Information Commissioner Mohammad Azam addresses a presser in Peshawar on Wednesday. — APP

PESHAWAR: Federal chief information commissioner Mohammad Azam on Wednesday said the Federal Information Commission has decided to launch its official website next week to help the people get the desired information from government departments within the minimum possible time.

Mr Azam told a news conference at the Peshawar Press Club that the filing of application for information was very easy and the people could approach the information commission by filling a simple application online.

He said the commission officials had been told to offer the desired information on verbal requests if the applicant was illiterate.

The information commissioner said the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017, would strengthen democracy and ensure good governance in the country besides enabling the citizens to get the required information.

He said the Right of Access to Information Act was passed in 2017 and within two years, Pakistan was ranked 32 among 130 countries regarding the law’s implementation.

Chief commissioner promises people early desired information

Mr Azam said under the law, every citizen had the right to have information in all matters of public importance as allowed by the regulations and law.

Information commissioner (legal) Fawad Malik said awareness of the law was required for educating people about the facility provided by the government to ensure basic human rights and a transparent, genuine democracy in the country.

He said the mindset of the people working in government departments was also needed to be changed in the provision of information to the people.

Mr Malik said the RTI law permitted the people to request the federal ministries and departments for information such as annual spending and performance statistics.

KP information commissioner Riaz Daudzai said KP led other provinces in enacting the same law in 2013 under the PTI government and thus, empowering the residents and holding officials accountable.

He asked journalists to use the RTI law for having access to authentic information for producing credible investigative reports.

Mr Daudzai said no official department was exempted from the RTI law and even the commissioner was receiving applications seeking information from judicial departments.

He said the KP RTI commissioner had received 15,150 applications and the sought-after information was provided to 8,681 applicants, while 6,398 applications were converted into complaints in line with the rules.

The KP information commissioner said 6,086 complaints had been decided by the commission taking the percentage to 97, while the process to address 312 complaints was underway.

Sharing data about gender segregation of applicants, he said 388 applications were filed by women and 6010 by men.

Mr Daudzai said the commission would respond to applications within 10 days of their filing with the reply from the relevant departments.

He said if the relevant departments didn’t respond to applications, the commission would take action over filing of appeal by the applicants.

The federal chief information commissioner was accompanied by federal information commissioner Zahid Abdullah and other officials, including Anwar Khan.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2019