Limited disclosures: District courts shy away from providing information under RTI law

CGPA receives responses from seven out of 22 district and sessions court judges.


Our Correspondent July 15, 2015
CGPA receives responses from seven out of 22 district and sessions court judges. CREATIVE COMMONS

PESHAWAR:


District courts have failed to provide information requested under the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act 2013, stated a press release issued on Tuesday by Centre for Governance and Public Accountability (CGPA).


According to the statement, requests to share details of the allocation, utilisation and lapse in development funds were sent to all district and sessions judges in K-P on June 23. They were asked to provide information for the entire fiscal year up until June 20.

“Under Section 2(i) of theRTI legislation, district courts are included in the list of public bodies from which information can be requested,” read the statement. “Requests were sent to 22 district and sessions judges.”

No access

So far, CGPA has received just seven responses.

“We have not been provided complete information,” stated the release. “The district and sessions judge in Bannu said such frivolous requests cannot be entertained and asked us to visit their office in person to collect the information.”

Similarly, lower courts in Buner and Dir said they could not entertain “anonymous requests” while district courts in Mansehra, Torghar, Haripur and Nowshera requested the Peshawar High Court to provide guidance in the matter.

According to the press release, citizens are not required to visit offices of public bodies or provide reason for accessing information under the RTI law. “Public bodies are expected to proactively disclose such information,” stated the press release.

Overhaul

The statement quoted CGPA Executive Director Muhammad Anwar as saying recent amendments in the RTI legislation  indicate decisions of the information commission can be challenged in the courts of district and sessions judges.

“Even if complaints are filed with the information commission against district courts, the orders of the commission can be overruled,” read the statement. “This is a major flaw in the RTI legislation. The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly should amend the law and ensure the commission’s decisions are only challenged through writ petitions in the
high court.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2015.

 

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