PIC refuses to recall its order on SC staff details | The Express Tribune


ISLAMABAD:

The Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) has refused to recall its order to make the details of Supreme Court’s staff public.

“This application is disposed of as the request contained therein falls outside the scope of powers vested in this Commission under the Right of Access to Information Act 2017”, read an order by three members of the PIC — Chief Information Commissioner Mohammad Azam and Information Commissioners Fawad Malik and Zahid Abdullah — on the SC registrar’s application wherein the request was made to the commission to recall its order.

In May 2019, applicant Mukhtar Ahmed Ali had approached the PIC seeking particular information about the total sanctioned strength of staff members of the top court against different positions and pay scales.

The data sought details from pay scale 1 to 22, along with total vacancies in the top court against different pay scales and positions. The applicant had also sought the dates from which these positions were lying vacant.

The applicant asked for the number of staff members who were not regular but had been engaged on daily-wage basis or through short-term or long-term contracts against various positions and pay scales and the number and types of positions created anew since January 1, 2017.

The total number of female, disabled people and transgender staff members against various positions and pay scales working with the SC and a certified copy of the latest approved service rules of the top court were also required.

On July 12 this year, the PIC directed the SC registrar to share with the appellant the requested information at the earliest, but not later than 20 working days of the receipt of the order.

“Worthy Registrar, Supreme Court of Pakistan is directed to notify Public Information Officer, (PIO), under Section 9 of the Act, put contact details of PIO on its website as required under Section 5 (1) (h) of the Act,” the order read.

Also read: SC registrar questions PIC order to make staff data public

“Worthy Registrar, Supreme Court of Pakistan is directed to take immediate steps to proactively share through the web site all categories of information mentioned in Section 5 of the Right of Access to Information Act 2017, ensuring accessibility of the information proactively published on its web site for all citizens, including the blind, low-vision, physically disabled, speech and hearing impaired and people with other disabilities,” it added.

However, the SC registrar, through Additional Attorney General Chaudhry Amir Rehman, approached the PIC requesting it to recall its order as it was passed without jurisdiction.

The PIC, however, rejecting the application said that the SC registrar’s counsel had made reference to the General Clauses Act. It added that the power to recall or rescind an order has not been provided for by the legislature in the 2017 Act.

“Therefore, to infer such power from the General Clauses Act for itself would amount to the Commission exceeding the confines of its authority, in clear violation of the intention of the legislature,” it noted in its latest order.

“The powers of the Commission are clearly delineated in Section 20 of the Act and the same does not provide for recalling/rescinding orders. In fact, provision is made to monitor and report on compliance (under Section 20(1)(a) of the Act) and to impose fines on officials for willful obstruction in the working of the Commission (Under Section 20(1)(f) of the Act) but no provision has been cited to ascertain or establish the any authority/power held by the Commission to rescind/recall orders.”

The PIC order read that if the assertion is that the commission’s order was illegal and without jurisdiction, a remedy is available in the form of a constitutional petition before the higher judicial forums.

“But the Commission is not authorised to create remedies that are not explicitly provided for within its constituent Act.”



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