ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) declared that information about pension, perks, privileges and post-retirement benefits, including plots allotted in government schemes, falls in the category of public information and should be provided to the public under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
The PIC order of June 2 available on the commission’s website is authored by information commissioner Zahid Abdullah on a petition moved by over 30 activists of the Women Action Forum from all over the country who had earlier been denied it.
“The PIC order is a giant step forward in ensuring transparency and accountability in all institutions without favour or fear,” Mr Babar said in a statement here on Sunday.
The order said the exercise of constitutional right of citizens to seek information under the RTI law did not amount to curtailing independence of judiciary nor it amounted to executive oversight of the judiciary.
Referring to some letter from the office of Supreme Court registrar, the order said it was administrative in nature and not a judicial verdict.
The categories of information to be proactively disclosed under the Act are not in conflict with the independence of the judiciary, the PIC order said.
The PIC held that if citizens’ right of access to information in matters of public importance pertaining to superior judiciary is restricted on the grounds that it would impact its independence and core functions, the same grounds would be relevant in the case of all public institutions.
About the declaration of assets of judges and their family members, the PIC order said it was for parliament to enact legislation and not for the commission.
The PIC order also said the information sought should have been available with the law and justice ministry in the form of official notifications and should have been placed on its website as required under Section 5 of the Act.
It also held that the voluntary provision of information by Justice Qazi Faez Isa recently cannot be equated with legally binding requirements for all justices under the Act.