LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) has been requested to order the federal government to make public complete details of the Toshakhana gifts received by political rulers and bureaucrats from foreign dignitaries since the creation of Pakistan.

“The right to information is an integral part of a progressive democratic state and the same has been elaborated by the superior courts saying the right to information in all matters of public importance is indisputably a fundamental right guaranteed under Article(s) 19 and 19-A of the Constitution,” pleads Munir Ahmad in a writ petition filed through Advocate Azhar Siddique.

According to the petitioner, the right to information stems from the requirement that members of a democratic society should be sufficiently informed that they may intelligently influence the decision which may affect them.

Therefore, he argues, the people of Pakistan have a right to know every public act, everything that is done in a public way, by public functionaries and their chosen representatives.

The petitioner, a lawyer by profession, says people at large are entitled to know details of every public transaction and acquire information in all matters of public importance.

“This enables people to contribute in debate on social and moral issues and matter of public importance.”

He urges the court to allow the petition and order the respondents to make public the details of assets gifted to rulers as well as bureaucrats and also provide the names, details, information, documentation and materials in respect of the persons/officials who have obtained the assets by making the payment.

The petitioner has also sought details of the methodology used to determine the price of the Toshakhana articles. Ministries of parliamentary affairs and interior, and Pakistan Information Commission have been arrayed as respondents in the petition.

Published in Dawn, December 18th, 2022

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