CRTI rejects amendments to Right to Information Act
Demands withdrawal of exemption given to KP Assembly, PHC
By our correspondents
July 25, 2015
PESHAWAR: Rejecting the amendments to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act 2013, the Coalition on Right to Information (CRTI) has presented a charter of demands aimed at restoring the status of Information Commission and ending the exemption given to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and Peshawar High Court (PHC). Speaking at a press conference, Zahid Abdullah, coordinator for CRTI, a network of 30 civil society organisations working to protect and promote citizens’ right to information in the country, said that when the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act 2013 was enacted, the CRTI appreciated it at every forum as it met standards of Right to Information legislation. However, the amendments to this law by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on June 23, 2015 have significantly diluted it, he added. Muhammad Anwar, executive director, Centre for Governance and Public Accountability, said that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly exempted itself from the purview of the law without any debate and without seeking input from civil society groups. “Furthermore, it lowered the status of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Commission making district courts the forum of appeal against the decisions of the Commission,” he noted. Lala Hassan from Institute for Research, Advocacy and Development said that CRTI had been demanding the inclusion of PHC within the purview of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act 2013. Instead, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly exempted itself from the purview of the law, he added. Through its charter of demands, the CRTI called upon the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to withdraw amendments to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act 2013 and bring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and the PHC within the ambit of the Act. It also demanded making PHC the forum for appeal against the decisions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Commission, ensuring that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Commission has a chief information commissioner and two information commissioners taken from the bureaucracy, judiciary and civil society and immediately extending the KP RTI law to Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (Pata).