Of freedom of speech

August 2, 2017

Sir, as we know that in result of 18th amendment in the Constitution of Pakistan of 1973 Article 19 — A and Article 19 were inserted in the Constitution. Article 19-A guarantees right to information to every citizen of Pakistan whereas, Article 19 gives right freedom of speech to every citizen.

These two Articles are fundamental rights of every citizen of Pakistan meaning thereby regardless of any caste, creed or breed, etc mentioned rights to be given to everyone. Following insertion of Article 19-A Punjab and KP passed supplementary provincial legislation dealing with right to information. Punjab assembly in the year 2013 promulgated an act called “The Punjab Transparency and Right to Information 2013” (RTI).

The mentioned act gave right to know to every citizen of Punjab and that was passed with intention of strengthening democracy and reducing corruption across all semi and governmental bodies/organisations of Punjab. By virtue of Section 7 of the Act Punjab Information Commission was notified for dealing with matter pertaining to the right to information. It was given a mandate of directing directions and orders to those public departments that fail or delay information of the citizen (s). It was RTI 2013 under which an application to the Lahore Chief Justice was made by a citizen for letting aware of his perks, allowances, and monthly salary. This had happened very first in the history of Pakistan that a judge was being asked a question relating to his salary, perks, and allowances.

The Lahore Chief Justice in compliance with the orders passed by the Information Commission had made his monthly salary and perks public. The decision of the CJ was much appreciated by all segments of the society and it set an excellent example in the country that secret culture must be ended and public has to be made aware of public funds and public bodies functioning.

The issue is that for last three months Punjab Information Commission seats of Chief Information Commissioner and two Additional Information Commissioners have been vacant because those who were appointment as Chief Information Commissioner and Additional Information Commissioners got retired in March and April this year respectively. Since April this year the government of Punjab has taken no interest in fulfilling those seats not an advertisement had been advertised fort seeking applications. Many applications of applicants of common citizens have been pending adjudication in the Commission because seats of Commissioners are vacant since March.

Through this letter I want to bring into attention of provincial government to appoint Information Commissioner and Additional Commissioners so that Information Commission resumes working as soon as possible. The Information Commission Punjab produced excellent results it had directed even the office of Governor Punjab to release information relating to questions of the applicant this story of excellence doesn’t stop here it had the privilege of directing the office of Chief Minister Punjab to public details of CM Punjab foreign trips and expenditure of CM secretariat. I urge the authorities and CM Punjab to appoint Chief Information Commissioner.

SARMAD ALI

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