Establishment Division challenged PIC Order in IHC

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Nadeem Tanoli;

ISLAMABAD,(Parliament Times): The Establishment Division has challenged the order of Pakistan Information Commission regarding the details of the bureaucrats who are not submitting their assets declaration regularly in Islamabad High Court.

According to details, the Establishment Division was directed to public the list of the officers who have not submitted their assets declarations during their whole service, and the details about the action taken against them. The public body was also directed to share the list of the officers whose cases are sent to any investigation agency for verification regarding the increase in their assets. These directions were issued by Pakistan Information Commission in pursuance of a complaint of this scribe on February 17, 2021.

Through a writ petition – copy available with Parliament Times – the Establishment Division has challenged the order of the commission stating that PIC’s order is not maintainable in law as the impugned order passed by PIC without hearing the petitioner is not maintainable on facts and law and liable to be set aside accordingly. In-ground of appeal – Establishment Division stated that the “Asset declaration form” of civil servants include the column regarding the record of bank accounts and financial institutions, which record is excluded from the purview of the act ibid vide Section 7(d).

Moreover, information sought by the individual from PIC did not fall in the definition of public record as per Section 6 of the RTI act. Similarly, the record relating to personal privacy of any individual is excluded from the purview of the Act vide Section 7 (g) of the Act. Answering a question of appellant that “whether it is a fact that a large number of government officers are not submitting their assets declaration regularly as required by law, if yes, please provide the details of the action taken against them”, the Establishment Division stated this information is exempted from disclosure under Section 5 and Section 16(c) and (i) of the Right of Access to Information Act 2017.

To questions regarding the list of the officers who have not submitted their assets declaration during their whole service and list of the officers whose cases are sent to any investigation agency for the verification of their assets, the Establishment Division stated even such list is prepared by the concerned employer, it does not fall in the definition of a public document in terms of Section 6 of the RTI act.