The Sindh High Court on Thursday directed the Sindh Information Commission to submit a progress report with regard to the working and system of its secretariat and the disposal of applications...
The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday directed the Sindh Information Commission to submit a progress report with regard to the working and system of its secretariat and the disposal of applications pending before it.
The direction came on a petition seeking the enforcement of the provisions of the Sindh Transparency and Right to Information Act, 2016, in letter and spirit. The petition, which was filed by non-governmental organisations and right activists, stated that the law for right to information was promulgated in 2016 and the provincial government was bound to make the Sindh Information Commission pursuant to the law within 100 days after the promulgation but despite the passage of multiple years, the Sindh government had failed to give the law its due effect and enforcement.
They petitioners maintained that the provincial government had rendered the law merely paper legislation. They submitted that the citizens were unable to access or approach the commission and register their complaints as they had been denied their right to information provided under the law.
They added that the information commission was yet to be constituted and it was not functioning despite the fact that a notification in this regard was issued on May 30, 2018.
The petitioners maintained that the state and its provincial organs were bound to effectively ensure the right to information to the citizens and that this right could not be granted until a regulatory authority was formed, for which the commission had been envisaged.
The high court was requested to declare that the action of the provincial government to not implement the Sindh Transparency and Right to Information Act was unconstitutional and direct the government to constitute the Sindh Information Commission and ensure its functioning as per the law.
An additional advocate general informed the high court that the provincial cabinet had approved the Sindh Information Commission (conduct of business) rules 2020, and also filed a copy of the rules. He submitted that the matter had been sent for issuance of the notification and sought time to file the gazette before the court.
The commissioner of the Sindh Information Commission submitted that the commission had a secretariat and they were receiving applications and deciding on the same. However, a counsel for the petitioners raised objections to the statement of the commissioner and submitted that there were various applications that were pending before the commission’s secretariat without any order.
The commissioner requested the SHC to grant time to file a progress report on the function of the commission. A division bench of the SHC headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar directed the commissioner of the Sindh Information Commission to submit a progress report about the working and system of the secretariat and disposal of applications pending before the commission, and adjourned the hearing till February 26.