October 20, 2016Print : Top Story
ISLAMABAD: The ineffective Right to Information draft law approved by the federal cabinet after its one-and-a-half dozen meetings since January 2014 is likely to be rejected by the Senate even if the National Assembly passes it.
Senator Farhatullah Babar while talking to The News said the toothless RTI draft law approved by the federal cabinet would be opposed at every forum as it is not the same draft that was prepared by the Senate’s Standing Committee.
“We (the committee members who prepared the Right to Information draft) will definitely oppose the law and even I will convince my party to oppose it in the Upper House. I am sure my party will listen to me and will oppose it as this is the fundamental right of the people of Pakistan to have access to information,” commented Senator Farhatullah Babar.
He said not a single institution is willing to share its powers with the public. Information, he said, is power and no institute or individuals would like to share it with the common masses. He said the RTI draft law approved by the federal cabinet is the negation of the basic principles of the people’s right to access the information, therefore, it should not sail through the both houses.
Asked why Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) despite many promises failed to get the Right to Information Law approved in its tenure during its regime from 2008-13, Senator Farhatullah Babar confessed that they failed to get it approved during PPP’s regime. He said his government had prepared a draft bill however PPP could not get it passed from the National Assembly.
“Our party had started a consultation process with the other political parties however we failed to reach consensus on the Right to Information draft law and could not implement our promise according to the Charter of Democracy,” he said.
Federal minister for information and broadcasting while talking to The News said the PML-N government would pass the Right to Information draft law after it consults with each and every political party in the Parliament and until it reaches consensus.
“We have made a comparative study of the draft which was proposed by the Senate Standing Committee and the draft which is approved by the Cabinet. I am sure there is not a huge difference between the two drafts. However if any political party would object then they are welcome to give their suggestions which would be taken into consideration,” commented Mr. Pervez Rasheed.
The proposed Right to Information draft law approved by the federal cabinet has already been declared ineffective by the civil society and now the political parties have started objections on it. The Coalition on Right to Information has declared Federal Right to Information Bill 2016 structurally flawed and ineffective.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Senate Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage on January 02, 2014 has finalized the draft of Right to Information law which was supposed to be presented before the federal cabinet in its next meeting scheduled on January 20, 2014. However despite passage of almost three years and one and half a dozen federal cabinet meetings it is finally approved.
The Right to Information Bill 2016 which is finally approved by the federal cabinet was promised to get approval from the cabinet meetings as it was part of the agenda of the meeting held on following dates during last three years: January 20, 2014, February 25, 2014, April 28, 2014, May 15, 2014, June 03, 2014, September 12, 2014, September 22, 2014, October 31, 2014, February 23, 2015, May 26, 2015, August 24, 2015,September 16, 2015 and more than half a dozen meeting held after September 2015.