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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) issued notices in response to a petition of the Federation challenging the order of the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) regarding the provision of details of foreign gifts received by the prime minister.

A single bench of Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, on Monday, heard the federal government petition against the PIC order to give details of the gifts received by Prime Minister Imran Khan from abroad.

A citizen, Rana Abrar Khalid, had sought the details of gifts received by PM Khan.

The federation filed the petition through the Cabinet Division and cited the PIC and Rana Abrar Khalid as respondents.

During the hearing, Assistant Attorney General (AAG) Atiqur Rehman Siddiqui adopted before the court that an exchange of gifts between the leaders of two countries was reflective of inter-State relations.

He maintained that the disclosure of their details will create media hype besides becoming the cause of the spread of fake news, and the spread of fake news will not only undermine Pakistan's relationship with other countries but will also damage the country's reputation.

The petition stated, "Information pertaining to Toshakhana has been declared "classified" with the directions of Prime Minister's office vide U.O letter dated 26-11-2015, stating therein that "the exchange of gifts between the Heads of States and Heads of Government is reflective of inter-state relations. Disclosure of such information can create media hype and result in unwarranted stories, thus potentially damaging the interest of Pakistan in the conduct of International Relations and jeopardizing inter-state relations."

It added that the impugned order of the PIC dates 27-1-21 is illegal, unwarranted and non-maintainable in the eyes of law; hence null and void ab initio. The petition further said that the said order of PIC is without lawful authority having been contrary to section 7 (f & g) and section 16 (1) (a) (ii) of Right of Access to Information Act, 2017.

Therefore, it prayed to the court that it may set aside the said order of the PIC being unlawful and illegal.

The IHC bench, after issuing notices to the PIC and the citizen, Abrar, adjourned the hearing for two weeks.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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