Every citizen shall have the right to have access to information in all matters of public importance subject to regulation.
A 2004 draft law moved by Sherry Rehman on behalf of the PPP, was again circulated to all the provinces, after the Prime Minister’s approval in April 2008. It was circulated by the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Sherry Rehman, for cabinet consultation and provincial buy-in. Sherry Rehman on October 11, 2011, introduced the much-awaited Right to Information Bill in the National Assembly that was pending in the NA Secretariat for two years.
- Introduced to recognise and realise the right to information as a fundamental constitutional right and to make information available to the public in order to promote good and transparent governance.
- Repeal the 2002 Ordinance on Freedom of Information in an effort to make all public and private bodies falling within its ambit increasingly accountable to citizens
- Facilitate and encourage the disclosure of information for greater transparency, accountability and empowerment of citizens.
- Empower the public and citizens’ groups to monitor the operations of government and public and private bodies while promoting a culture of non-abusive, across the board accountability of governments.
- Restrict the exceptions where information may be protected from the public within reasonable grounds.
- Ensure that all restrictions and exceptions on the right to information are weighed against the greater public interests
Why the right to information
- Universally the right to information is described as “oxygen” for democracy and the “touchstone” for all freedoms.
- An effective law on right to information is widely considered a pre-requisite for combating corruption, ensuring transparency and promoting public accountability.
- Today, now that Article 19 of the Constitution has made the freedom of speech and expression a fundamental right of the citizens, access to information is being given as a right.
- According to the 18th Amendment Bill, after Article 19, the following new article shall be inserted, namely: 19A. Right to information: “ Every citizen shall have the right to have access to information in all matters of public importance subject to regulation.”
- The bill requires organisations to proactively publish their records of structure, budget and modus operandi.
- It further protection to the whistle-blowers, thus taking positive steps to encourage penalising the breach of the right to information.
- It restricts the exceptions where information may be protected from the public within clear grounds.
- It requires decisions not to grant information to an applicant explained clearly to him and to point out alternatives.
- It suggests the existence of a body that can monitor and provide guidance for the issuance of records to Public Information Officer.