The Coalition on Right to information (CRTI) has strongly rejected the Right of Access to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which has been moved as a private member bill in the Senate of Pakistan. The said amendment bill, if enacted by the Parliament, will limit the scope of the right to information law by excluding Parliament from the definition of public bodies, which are bound to provide information to citizens. CRTI condemns this move for being mala fide unconstitutional and against the interests of people of Pakistan.
All the CRTI members represented by the Mukhtar Ahmad Ali, Executive Director CPDI, Mr. Aftab Alam, ED of Institute for Research, Advocacy and Development (IRADA), Ms. Sadaf Khan, Director Program Media Matters for Democracy, Anwar CGPA, Muhammad Anwar, ED of Centre for Governance and Public Accountability (CGPA) jointly stated that, The Right of Access to Information Act, 2017 provides detailed mechanism for implementation of citizens’ right to information in relation to the public bodies of the Federal Government. It is already a weak law as compared to similar laws in the provinces in Pakistan (i.e. Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh) and many other countries around the world (e.g. India).
Recently, five (5) senators have moved a private member bill to further weaken the Right of Access to Information Act 2017. The senators who have moved the Bill include: Senator Sajjad Hussain, Walid Iqbal, Muhammad Ali Khan Saif, Manzoor Ahmed and Mirza Muhammad Afridi. The Bill seeks to omit clause (c) of Section 2(ix) of the Act, which would exclude Parliament (both Senate and the National Assembly) from the purview of the Act.