ISLAMABAD - A Senate select committee on Tuesday unanimously agreed on the draft of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill, 2016.

A formal approval of the bill will be given in the panel’s next meeting before sending it to the Senate.

The panel’s meeting was held under the chair of Committee Chairman Senator Farhatullah Babar at the Parliament House.  The meeting discussed clauses of the draft bill in detail and incorporated several suggestions. All clauses and suggestions were approved unanimously with the support of the government. 

The committee agreed that the proposed Information Commission would consist of three members — a grade 22 officer, a retired judge and a representative of civil society. The prime minister will have the authority to appoint and fire any member of the proposed commission.  The commission members age limit has been capped at 65-year at the time of appointment.

The commission will be bound to present its audit and other reports in the National Assembly and it will publish its report twice in a year.

The committee also decided that after 20 years, all records would be made public. The committee suggested that if the information was related to life and personal liberty of a person, the institution concerned will furnish the information within three days.

The committee has also recommended a whistle-blower clause in the bill to protect a person in an organisation from recrimination, in the case, he or she informs on a person or organisation regarded as engaging in an unlawful activity.     

The chairman thanked all members of the committee and the government for reaching on a consensus on the draft bill.

Senators Syed Shibli Faraz, Rubina Khalid, Pervaiz Rashid, Ilyas Bilour, Mushahidullah Khan, Mukhtiar Ahmed Damrah Ejaz and Javed Abbasi also attended the meeting.

Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb and Chairman Standing Committee on Information Senator Kamil Ali Agha also attended the meeting.

Meanwhile, Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the government was keen to expand ties with Iran in various sectors including economy and culture.

Addressing the 38th anniversary of the Iran revolution in Islamabad on Tuesday afternoon, she said that Pakistan attached great importance to its relations with neighbouring countries. She said that Iran has cooperated with Pakistan in the elimination of terrorism.