ISLAMABAD - Taking an initiative to ensure the right of access to information to the general public, the speaker of the National Assembly Asad Qaier has directed all wings of the National Assembly Secretariat to share all the records to the general public.

“All the wings should upload their record, which falls within the category of public record as mentioned in Section 4,5,6,7 of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017, on the official website as soon as possible but not later than 10 days,” according to the official circular available to The Nation.

As the The Right of Access to Information Act, 2017 grants complete access to the record of public authorities. However, it was also decided that no access to the official record of armed forces, defence installations, details of individuals’ bank accounts, defence and national security would be made public. 

Any Pakistani citizen, under the law, can make a request for seeking information regarding public offices by paying some amount. The principal officer in these departments will have to provide the applicant with the relevant information within three to 10 days.

“In case of non-availability of information, the officer will have to justify his act in writing and clearly state how the considerations of national security outweighed public interest,” according to section of the act related to ‘the publication and availability of record’.

Under the clause of the act regarding ‘Declaration of Public Record’, the record will be declared as public record: policies and guidelines, the disposal of property, the expenditure of public body, performance, duties, functions, grant of licences, benefits, privileges and contracts.

According to available ‘Circular’ issued to the automation wing, “the automation wing has been directed to convey in writing about the record uploaded under this direction with precision and exact section of the website”. 

It was also directed to keep their record updated and manage it according to secretariat instructions, 2004 or other instructions issued by the government. The automation wing, as per the orders, has to facilitate all the wings about access to information.

Talking to the newspaper, the spokesman of the National Assembly Secretariat confirmed that the speaker of the National Assembly Asad Qaiser has recently asked to ensure right of access to information within ten days.

It may be noted here that the act was passed in both the houses [National Assembly and Senate] with an aim to make the government more accountable regarding corruption and inefficiency, besides ensuring good governance.