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NADRA Official’s Salary To Be Deducted For Denying Information To Citizen Under RTI

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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) on Thursday directed National Database and Regulatory Authority (NADRA) Chairman Usman Yousaf Mobin to deduct 5-day salary of designated Public Information Officer (PIO) Faik Ali Chachar for ‘willful denial of requested information’ under Section 20(f) of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017.

The PIC directed the NADRA chairman to submit a compliance report by Sept 10 and provide the requested information to the appellant.

“The respondent is also directed to take immediate steps to proactively share through the website all categories of information mentioned in Section 5 of the RTI Act 2017 and submit the compliance report to the commission within a month,” it added.

The RTI was filed by a journalist based in Islamabad to NADRA chairman regarding the number of registered transgender persons. However, the data-collecting body neither provided data nor responded to the commission’s notices.

The commission, through a notice, called upon the respondent to submit reasons for not providing the requested information, but PIO Chachar didn’t appear before the commission as well. It is to mention here that implementation of the order is also a challenge for the PIC as the commission had issued multiple orders in the past but the authority never responded to any notice.

Commission’s Observations

The commission observed that NADRA collects data about citizens on behalf of citizens and for the citizens. It is the custodian of this data and not its owner. It also observed that the ‘willful delay or denial of the requested information’ causes the undue cost to citizens and the commission.

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The emerging trends suggest that NADRA is treating requested information like a jealously guarded secret which in fact should be on its website in the best interest of the public, the commission observed.

Whether it is FBR, Secretariat, Senate of Pakistan, or NADRA, the public officials are raising the cost of access to information both in terms of time and money through violation of the provisions of the RTI Act 2017, the commission order stated.

“This commission is of the view that the powers vested in officers are not being exercised ‘reasonably, fairly, justly, and for the advancement of the purposes of the enactment” as required under Section 24A (1) of the General Clauses Act 1897’, the order reads.

The PIO violated the procedure laid down in the act for handling information requests and neither acknowledged the receipt of the information request nor communicated to the appellant with regard to the acceptance or refusal of the information request.

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