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February 11, 2015

Punjab Information Commission calls for speedy online FIR system

National

February 11, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Amidst strong calls for bringing reforms in registration of First Information Report (FIR), the Punjab Information Commission has directed the provincial police to speed up work on online FIR management information system (FIR MIS) to ensure effective service delivery to the citizens.
In a letter written to Inspector General of Police (IG) Punjab Mushtaq Sukhera, the Chief Information Commissioner Punjab Mazhar Hussain Minhas directed the police to replicate the FIR management system successfully implemented by Jhang district police in compliance with section 8 of the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013.
Human rights activists and legal experts believe that current FIR registration system is heavily flawed and could be misused to target the innocent citizens by police and influential groups.“In view of our mandate under section 6(5)(a) and section 8 of the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013, the Punjab Information Commission has a profound interest in terms of tracking and promoting technological initiatives by public bodies for better record management and improved access of citizens to information,” the Chief Information Commissioner said.
While applauding the Jhang police for becoming the first district of Pakistan to develop and implement online FIR management system, the Commission directed the IG Punjab to keep it informed about how Punjab Police will replicate the system in all districts.
“We are particularly delighted to learn that Jhang police now keeps the complainants informed about the progress made on their complaints through auto generated cell phone messages. This should go a long way in improving people’s right to information and building public trust in the police,” the commissioner wrote.
The commission has directed the police chief to ensure implementation of Rule 4 of Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Rules 2014, which calls for maintenance, indexation and

computerisation of records and introduction of online data management system to ensure efficient retrieval of information.
Separately, the commission has also issued a circular dated February 9, 2015 while addressing all public bodies in Punjab including the police for immediate maintenance and computerisation of information under the RTI law.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by section 6(5)(a) and section 8(2) of the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013, the Punjab Information Commission calls upon you to take immediate steps to index, catalogue, computerise and secure information and records held by your respective public body, administrative unit or office in the light of section 8 of the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013, which has been further elaborated by Rule 4 of the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Rules 2014,” it reads.
The commission has directed the public bodies to ensure online management of applications submitted by citizens, legal persons or others for licences, permits, permissions, NOCs, pension, sanctions, allotments, entitlements, access to information and internal reviews, approvals or any other service provided by the respective public bodies.
The circular also called upon the public bodies to keep online record of complaints submitted by citizens or others about deficient service, negligence, delays, wrong decisions, misconduct, illegal actions, inefficiency, corruption, criminal act or any other problem relating to public bodies or any of their functionaries.
It also urged the government department to develop automated system for feedback, alerts and updates to or from citizens and others in respect of their applications, complaints, requests, or generally to keep people informed about emergencies, risks or various initiatives taken by the public bodies.