The News International: Islamabad: Friday, March 24, 2017.
The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) has urged the Punjab government to constitute ’Search Committee’ to appoint information commissioners.
The Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013 which scores 139 out of 140 points on CPDI score Sheet of Right to Information Laws of Pakistan will largely be useless if Punjab government does not take immediate steps to appoint information commissioners. Three years tenure of present information commissioners of Punjab Information Commission is coming to an end as the tenures of Chief Information Commissioner, Mazhar Hussain Minhas and Ahmed Raza Tahir will end on March 31 and the tenure of Mukhtar Ahmed Ali will end on April 30, 2017.
The CPDI urges Punjab government to constitute search committee to ensure merit-based appointment of information commissioners keeping in mind the eligibility criterion as mentioned in Section 5 of the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013. The eligibility criterion for commissioners set under Section 5 of the RTI Act states one of the members needs to be person who has been or is qualified to be judge of high court, a person who is or has been in the service of Pakistan in basic scale 21 or equivalent and a person from civil society having degree based on 16 years of education from a recognised institution and experience not less than 15 years in the field of mass communication, academic or right to information.
The timely appointment of new information commissioners is also important for the proper hand-over of the charge by the out-going information commissioners and that they could apprise them about their obligations regarding timely disposal of complaints, ensuring proactive disclosure of information, creating mass awareness about rights of people under the law, imparting trainings to Public Information Officers (PIOs), monitoring on the compliance by public bodies, and publishing its annual report.