PESHAWAR: The Federal Right To Information (RTI) Commission will shortly launch its official website to facilitate the general public to file applications online for obtaining information from government departments.
Federal Chief Information Commissioner, Muhammad Azam, said this while addressing a press conference at the Peshawar Press Club on Wednesday. He was flanked by Commissioner Legal RTI, Fawad Malik, Federal Information Commissioner, Zahid Abdullah, Information Commissioner KP, Riaz Khan Daudzai and CGPA Executive Director, Anwar Khan.
Muhammad Azam said the work was underway to make the public approach the RTI easily. He said for that website would be launched next week. The official said application filing procedure was still much easier and any citizen who wanted to get any information about any government department could approach RTI through an application on plain paper.
He said the RTI officials had been directed to accept verbal applications as well in case if the applicant was illiterate. Muhammad Azam said the Right of Access to Information Act 2017 was a landmark achievement and hoped it would strengthen democracy and ensure good governance. He said the Right of Access to Information Act was passed in 2017 and within two years the ranking of Pakistan about its implementation among 130 countries stood at 32.
Under the law, he explained, every citizen had the right to have access to information in all matters of public importance subject to regulations and law. RTI Commissioner Legal, Fawad Malik, said awareness about the law was required for educating masses about the facility provided by the government to ensure basic human rights and transparent, genuine democracy in the country.
The official said the mindset of public sector departments was needed to be changed in the provision of information to the general masses. Riaz Daudzai, Commissioner Information KP, said the KP led other provinces in enacting the same law in 2013 under the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf provincial government, adding the law had empowered people and made officials accountable, said. He urged the journalists to use RTI for the incorporation of information in investigative stories which not also made their writes up more credible.
He said the law was helpful for investigative journalists who seek authentic information that would ensure accurate information to the public besides discourage news based on speculations and sensationalism.
Riaz Daudzai said no official department was exempted from the RTI Act even the commissioner is receiving applications seeking information from judicial departments.
He told newsmen that KP RTI Commissioner had received 15,150 applications to date of which information was provided to 8,681 applicants and 6,398 requests are converted into complaints.
The official said 6,086 complaints were addressed by the commission which came out to be 97 per cent of the total complaints whereas 312 were under process. Sharing data about gender segregation of applications, 388 applications are filed by female and 6010 by the male.
Information Commissioner Zahid Abdullah said within ten days of the filing of the application, RTI would respond to the applicant after getting a reply from the concerned department. He said in case there is no reply from the department, RTI will take action over filing of appeal by the applicant.
The official urged media men to spread awareness about RTI and its role through which people can get all kind of information about any the developmental project, performance of government departments and other relevant issues.
APP adds: Addressing a seminar at the Institute of Management Sciences in Hayatabad, Chief Information Commissioner, Right to Information Commission, Muhammad Azam termed the Right of Access to Information Act 2017 a landmark step for strengthening democracy, eliminating corruption and for good governance.
He said the law was based on the Islamic concept of governance and would ensure transparency and merit in all development projects of public welfare, adding the Constitution of Pakistan guarantees all basic human rights including freedom of speech, opinion and expressions.
The official, however, said that support of government departments was imperative for provision of quick information to citizens within the stipulated time period.