Right To Information (RTI)
Right To Information (RTI)
What is RTI?
RTI is a world renowned concept which stands for “Right to Information”. It is presently enforced as a legal framework in almost 125 countries either under the title of RTI or FOI (Freedom of Information), both being interchangeable for each other. It is based on premise that citizens being taxpayers are the owners of state machinery and information held by public bodies. It is believed that with public information of each order or use of public funds, leads to participatory governance in real democracy.
In Pakistan the foundation of RTI was laid with insertion of Article 19-A in the Constitution in 2010. It acknowledged Right to information as a fundamental right of citizens and any citizen can have access to any public information of public importance held by any public body. RTI boosts transparency, accountability, efficiency of public functionaries, elimination of corruption and obviously improve the public services.
How RTI contributes for good governance?
When a citizen gets information of any public service or use of public fund, he is obviously becomes more effective in his day to day functions. It also provide opportunity for citizens to comment upon the performance & policies of public bodies which leads to a vibrant public opinion. Since public opinion plays a pivotal role in national politics so ultimately the overall governance necessarily improves. It is because general ignorance of public which allows public functionaries are for that matter government at the top level to indulge in policies which are not in the interest of public at large. In short RTI is a recipe of elimination of corruption, efficiency of public functionaries and good governance.
The Government also benefits from RTI as public debate makes it aware of the gaps and weaknesses in the function of public bodies as such provides an opportunity to address said issues. In this view of matter RTI is beneficial to major stakeholder including public and public bodies.
The vision of Deputy Commissioner about RTI?
Deputy Commissioner Multan considers that to have an informed society and to hold public functionaries accountable to citizens is paramount consideration of RTI. DC Multan also considers that times have change and secrecy and distance from public are no longer compatible with democracy and that role of a Deputy Commissioner is central in a district to ensure improved public services. In order to implement his vision he has taken the following immediate actions in collaboration with Punjab Information Commission being a regulator of RTI law.
Two modes of disclosure of information by DC Office;
The act provides 13 kinds of basic information regarding each public body which need to be disclosed proactively or voluntarily through official websites. Such information is the introduction of Rules, Regulations and Laws, the Directory of all Officers with their function and powers and detail of all public services rendered by a public body. Such updated information must reflect all the time on official website to facilitate citizens looking for any service from the public body.
Any information is not covered under Sec-4 of the Act hence not proactively disclosed, can be retrieved by filling RTI Application to the PIO designated u/s 7 of the Act. A PIO (Public Information Officer) is officially assigned the task of conduct of RTI business by dealing with all RTI Applications. DC Multan ensures that PIO for his office and all PIOs designated for all other offices under his administrative control must be well-versed with RTI law and preferably trained from Punjab Information Commission to deliver RTI services. The list of officers presently designated as PIOs are as under;
|Office||Contact Number / Email ID|
|MWMC Office||0619330175 / firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Complaint Cell (WhatsApp)||0305-9215555|
|Public Information Officer (Muhammad Imran Khan)||0304-0928899 / email@example.com|
Procedure of Processing of RTI Applications?
RTI Application can be filed either on a plain paper or prescribed performa. DC office Multan has already adopted the performa used by Punjab Information Commission. A view of such application is as under;
Access to Information –
Process Flow A Citizen is required to disclose following information while filling RTI Application:
• Copy of Identity Card
• Mobile Contact No
• Email Address
• Mailing Address
An applicant is under obligation to provide necessary detail and adequate description of the requisite information/document;
An applicant is not bound to explain the reason to have access to some particular information;
PIO subject to making necessary entries in RTI Register issues acknowledgment receipt to the applicant;
Any PIO working under the administrative control of DC Multan, first of all determines that whether the requisite information/document is really held by the office. In case it is so held, he evaluates the requisite information w.r.t 8 exemptions provided u/s 13 (1) of RTI Act. If the information is not exempted under any of 8 sub-clauses then dispatches the certified copy/copies of information at the given address of complainant at state expenses taking the same as statutory obligation.
Although usual limit for providing/disclosing information is 14 working days yet in case of some complications the said limit extends maximum up to 28 days but in such case PIO of DC Office Multan informs the citizen about the cause of delay and tentative date of disclosure.
In case any information is found exempted under any of 8 sub-clauses of Sec-13 (1), PIO of DC office Multan pass a Speaking Order and dispatch its copy at the given address of complainant.
All PIOs in DC office Multan keep efficient liaison with Punjab Information Commission for guidance and also appear for hearing when citizen file a RTI Complaint (Appeal) before the Commission.
Citizens are also advised to visit RTI Punjab Commission website and fill the online application form to directly submit the application to Commission.