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Saturday May 18, 2024

Right to Information Act: Judges welfare fund told to provide information

The Fund was established for the welfare of district judiciary judges and their families in the province

By Asif Mehmood Butt
November 20, 2023
The Punjab Information Commission logo can be seen in this image. — Facebook/Punjab Information Commission
The Punjab Information Commission logo can be seen in this image. — Facebook/Punjab Information Commission

LAHORE: Punjab Information Commission has ordered secretary of Judicial Officers Welfare Fund to make public information sought about the Fund within seven days.

Chaudhry Qamar Ejaz, a former Sessions Judge, had sent an application to the Secretary of Judicial Officers Welfare Fund seeking information on the rules and regulations of the Fund and the allowances (TA,DA) given to its members for attending the board meetings. The request was denied.

This welfare fund has a regular board headed by Registrar Lahore High Court, while Senior Civil Judge, Lahore, is its secretary and more than eight judges are members of the board. The Fund was established for the welfare of district judiciary judges and their families in the province.

After hearing the case, Information Commissioner Mehboob Qadir Shah said the Fund was set up to help the serving and retired judges whose financial conditions are not strong to support their family. He said the meetings of the Governing Body of Judicial Officers Welfare Fund are held under the chairmanship of Registrar Lahore High Court, whose minutes are issued. Being a stakeholder, former District and Sessions Judge Chaudhry Qamar Ejaz had applied for information on March 18, 2023 under Access to Information Act 2013. He wanted to know the transparency in the functioning of the Fund. But the information he requested for was not provided to him, he said.

The commissioner said Senior Civil Judge Lahore was ordered to provide information to the applicant, but he sought an exemption under Section 13 of the Access to Information Act. He said it was very unfortunate the Public Information Officer of the Judicial Officers Welfare Board or other officers did not appear before the commission.

He said retired sessions judge Qamar Ejaz is a stakeholder of the welfare fund and has a legal right to have the said information. The commissioner said he does not expect the senior civil judge Lahore, who is the secretary of this welfare board, to keep the above information confidential. The commission adjourned the hearing of the case till December 4.