Our reclusive Information Commissions
Were the Federal and Provincial Access to Information Acts hastily churned out, only as a ‘public relations’ exercise? The truth is that they deliver dismally little in terms of information requested by the citizens. Of the 70 or so requests made by me in the last 6 years, there are less than 10 departments who responded and less than 5 who actually gave any information. By ensuring a stunted growth of their Information Commissions, the Federal and the Sindh Governments have essentially incapacitated the entire Right to Information process.
The Federal Access to Information Act of October 2017 required the Federal Government to establish an Information Commission within 6 months. Sadly, this action was taken after 11 months in November 2018. As if to keep the Commission in a state of helplessness, the government, till today has not allocated any budget, provided office space or released salaries for the Information Commissioners. Thus, even fifteen months after passage of the RTI Act, we still have a dysfunctional Federal Information Commission.
Likewise, the Sindh Government delayed the establishment of an Information Commission for 14 months after passing the 2017 Sindh RTI Act. Reluctantly, a paper version of an Information Commission finally did emerge in May 2018, but the public at large, till today has no way of knowing who, where and how to contact this invisible Commission.
Can one expect that the Federal and the Sindh Governments shall operationalise their Information Commissions without any further delay and inform the general public on where and how can these reclusive commissions be contacted.