May 22, 2022

Pakistan Information Commission Orders CAA To Provide Records

Islamabad — The Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) on Monday directed the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to supply within 20 days information related to the janitorial staff at the Karachi airport.

A citizen had requested the authority for these records in February under the federal right to information (RTI) law.

The commission also directed the CAA to proactively publish on its website all categories of information mentioned in Section 5 of the Right of Access to Information Act 2017. Section 5 obliges public bodies to share with citizens the details of its functions, directory of employees, statutory rules, and policies, among other records.

The CAA has been asked to submit a compliance report to the PIC by 18 December.

According to the order, Naeem Sadiq had requested the CAA to provide reasons why the contractual janitorial staff working in the passenger lounge and the car park of the Jinnah International Airport, Karachi, were paid different monthly salaries. Mr. Sadiq had also asked for contracts signed by the authority with external companies for providing janitorial services in different parts of the airport. The number of regular and contractual janitors at the airport were also inquired.

Mr. Sadiq’s original information request was dated 6 February. He filed an appeal with the commission on 28 February, according to the PIC order.

Upon the commission’s intervention, the CAA responded in late June that it had shared information with the requester. But Mr. Sadiq told the commission in September that the CAA had sent him “irrelevant information” that did not pertain to his requested records. Representatives of the authority did not attend a hearing of the appeal called by the commission on 14 November, leading to the issuance of the order on Monday.

The PIC order maintains the copies of contracts signed by the CAA are public records under the RTI law and the CAA is legally obligated to share details about the salaries and duties of its staff.

“The commission is of the view that the information provided by the Respondent (CAA) does not correspond to the information requested by the appellant (Mr. Sadiq),” the discussion section of the order stated. “In fact, it is a testament to the lack of thought and casual attitude adopted by the Respondent in providing the requested information to the Appellant.”

The PIC directed the CAA to provide the requested information “at the earliest, but in any case, not later than 20 working days of the receipt of this order”.

The commission is the appellate body under the federal RTI law but it has faced unfavourable circumstances since the government appointed commissioners towards the end of 2018.

The commission has not been provided a budget, office space, and staff to conduct its operations. Two writ petitions are pending in the Islamabad High Court challenging the federal government’s lack of support to the PIC.

The PIC has, despite the lack of resources, issued a schedule of costs, sent letters to federal ministries to appoint public information officers, and drafted its service rules. It is also actively taking up complaints submitted by citizens who have not received satisfactory responses to their information requests from government departments.

Read the complete order below:

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