Applicable to all: CGPA backs RTI Commission’s recommendations

PESHAWAR: The Centre for Governance and Public Accountability (CGPA) has thrown weight behind the decision to amend the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act 2013.

This was stated in a press release on Wednesday. According to the document, CGPA said RTI Commission has proposed requisite changes to the law which ought to be implemented.

“Under these recommendations, the K-P Assembly and Peshawar High Court will be included within the ambit of the RTI Act,” read the statement.

Other proposals included making PHC the appeal court for the commission’s decisions and appointing a new commissioner within 30 days if the position falls vacant, it added.

“The provincial government should fulfil its promise of bringing the K-P Assembly within the purview of the RTI legislation,” said CGPA Executive Director Muhammad Anwar in the press release. “PHC is also not included in the list of public bodies from whom information can be sought under this law. The commission has insisted public bodies should be defined in a broader sense under the law. This will ensure a large number of institutions can be brought within the ambit of the RTI law.”

Last resort

According to the press release, Anwar also backed the commission’s plans to make PHC the appeal court for its decisions.

“Only constitutional courts have the power to redress grievances caused by the violation of fundamental rights,” stated the document. “As a result, the commission’s decisions should only be challenged through writ petitions in the high court. If district courts are given the authority to reverse such decisions, it will hamper the commission’s ability to disclose information to the public.”

On a time frame

“The RTI law does not bind the government to appoint a new commissioner,” read the statement. “The commission suggested the government should be bound to appoint a new commissioner within 30 days if the position falls vacant. This provision will ensure the functions of the commission are not hindered.”

Past and present

In June 2015, Minister for Information Mushtaq Ghani exempted the K-P Assembly from the purview of the RTI legislation through an amendment presented in the house. The final version of the bill, which was put to the vote, was not provided to anybody and last-minute additions were made to grant the exemption. CGPA condemned the move, saying the manner in which the amendment was introduced violates the accepted norms of lawmaking and cripples the legislative process.