ISLAMABAD - A parliamentary panel on Tuesday suggested a number of changes in the draft of Right to Information Bill 2013 aimed at ensuring access to information to the masses.
The bill was taken up by Senate Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage that met with Senator Kamil Ali Agha in the chair.
After deliberations, the committee abolished the provision of implementing the right to information act only after the issuance of notification of the federal government.
Senator Farhatullah Baber from the Pakistan Peoples Party objected the provision saying the government must not be given the authority of implementing the right to information act to its choicest date. Babar expressed the apprehensions that government wanted to delay the implementation. He said this is strange provision the government has no authority to link the implementation of the act with notification.
Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Pervaiz Rashid clarified that the government was sincere in introducing the right to information bill but departments must be given ample time to make infrastructure for prompt dissemination of information to the desiring persons. He said that the department should be given sufficient time to appoint a focal person and other infrastructure for disseminating the information to any desiring person.
The recommendations of the committee included the clause compelling NGOs, getting funds from government to provide the required information to any person approaching for the same.
The committee recommended that the chairman/member of Right to Information Commission should be a retired bureaucrat of grade 21 or 22, any person qualifying to be a judge of superior judiciary or former MPs. The abovementioned should be recommended by standing committees for information of both the Senate and National Assembly. Another member should also be from among the person having known public service record including media professionals nominated by the standing committees of information of the Senate and National Assembly.
The committee also recommended changes in the removal process of chairman of information commission. The removal of chairman should be notified by the federal government on recommendation of a three-member parliamentary committee constituted by Senate chairman and NA speaker. The committee should have one member from Senate and two from the National Assembly.
Any person can file no trust against the chairman of the commission. The parliamentary committee for removal of chairman should investigate the veracity of the allegations and report to federal government within 30 days.
The federal government should issue the notification of removal within 15 days. The chairman can file an appeal (against his removal) in Islamabad High Court within 30 days.