Article 19-A of the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan guarantees freedom of speech for every citizen of Pakistan. This article proclaims to render the citizens the right to access legally assured institutional information.
Provincial assembly Balochistan had framed RTI Act 2005 in its parliamentary statutes. That remains sustained up till now.
The new government considered the RTI Act 2005 incomplete and planned to commission a committee to hold a systematic and full-fledged review of the RTI Bill. Former Minister for information Zahoor Buledi worked in parliamentary premises to frame a new “RTI ACT 2019”.
RTI Bill will allow the public to seek information on public interests from government, semi-government, NGOs, and other institutions. RTI Act 2019 allows obtaining information about departmental documents, agreements, official budgets, salaries, expenditures, and signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs). Right To Information Bill 2019 is a sub-constitutional statute linking Article 19-A of the 1973 Constitution that guarantees the safe circulation of information in the country.
The new RTI act also makes several restrictions not to apply for those ones which are considered either unethical or out of legal boundaries. These restrictions are about any sort of personal information. Secondly, RTI does not allow the public to ask for any information contrary to the country’s national security. Thirdly any information that is set secret on the premises of any governmental or non-governmental department will not be provided to the public.
Balochistan Government has Commissioned 3 person Committee to hear public complaints that consist of a senior retired civil servant, a senior competent journalist, and a competent high court judge. This Committee hears public complaints which will penalize any institution found guilty of withholding information.
Currently, COVID-19 has stopped progress on this bill. When implemented it will bring a safe environment to proclaim freedom of speech and would surely put control on falsely disseminated information.
Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article are those of the author and Balochistan Voices not necessarily agrees with them.
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