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ISLAMABAD: The Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court (LHC) has taken notice of the delay in the appointment of Information Commissioners in the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC).

It is reliably learnt that a constitutional petition has been moved by tax lawyer Waheed Shahzad Butt through international Constitutional/public interest litigation lawyer and human rights activist Muhammad Azhar Siddique in the LHC.

In this connection, the LHC has directed the secretary for Information and Broadcasting, Ministry of Information, to submit comments on the case.

The constitutional petition challenges the odd silence on the part of the prime minister for not appointing Information Commissioners in PIC.

Petition has been heard by the chief justice LHC and after hearing the arguments issued order, “Petitioner submit that the application for implementation of order in appeal titled “Waheed Shahzad Butt Vs Federal Board of Revenue, Islamabad” was not being decided on account of non-availability of Commissioner, the competent authority, as vacancy is not being filled as envisaged under Section 18 of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017, constraining the petitioner to approach this Court for seeking direction to the competent authority for appointment of the concerned Commissioner.

Petitioner Waheed Shahzad Butt states, “Chief Information Commissioner and one Information Commissioner have been retired on 07.11.2022 while the other Information Commissioner has also retired on 17.11.2022. Unfortunately, with the retirement of three Information Commissioners, hundreds of appeals will remain untouched and pending until the hiring of new information commissioners as per law. Unfortunately, after the retirement of all Commissioners, the Pakistan Information Commission right now is dysfunctional in terms of Section 18(3) of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017.

The petitioner has requested the court that the directions may be given to the respondents to immediately fill the seats of Information Commissioners at “PIC” by following the criteria laid down by the Supreme Court of Pakistan for the appointment of persons to such key posts, of course, in the interest of justice, equity and fair-play and to protect the constitutional rights of citizens of Pakistan provided under Article 19A. The selection process be initiated to fill the vacant posts, with candidates who genuinely possesses as well as pass the criteria of “fit and proper person” through lawfully fulfilling all the requirements, following the proceedings set-out by the Superior Court, Waheed added.

Let respondent No 1 (federation of Pakistan) shall file a report and para-wise comments so as to reach this Court within a fortnight. The Deputy Attorney General has also been directed to ensure compliance of the order of the court the LHC added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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