Former senator Farhatullah Babar urged the ministry defence to respond to his query about perks and privileges of senior officers under the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2017 and the order passed by the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) in May 2022, it emerged on Friday.
In a letter to the defence secretary, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)’s former senator reminded that he first requested for the information in July 2020, but it was declined.
On an appeal, he added, the PIC ordered on May 12, 2022 that not only the requisite information be provided but the regulations governing land allotments be also published on the web site of defence ministry. However, the order has also not been complied with till date, he stated.
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Babar shared with The Express Tribune that a three-member bench headed by the chief justice had ordered last month that information about court employees be provided to a petitioner, stating that right to information was a fundamental right under the Article 19 of the Constitution.
“Encouraged, I humbly renew my request once again for information about post-retirement perks and privileges of senior defence officers”, Babar stated. Dispelling any misgivings, he said that his question “had arisen out of reported allotment of 90 acres to an ex-army chief in suburbs of Lahore as post-retirement benefit”.
When the matter was raised in the Senate, the PPP leader maintained that the military’s media wing, instead of denying the allotment, claimed on January 26, 2017 that “such allotments are through constitutional provisions”.
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“Naturally, public interest questions and issues of transparency, regulations making, and accountability do arise and I once again urge that the information be kindly provided under RTI Act 2017,” he said.
It has previously been reported that the ministry officials, according to Babar, argued that the information sought was confidential in nature and exempted from disclosure under Section 7(e) of the RTI Act.
The petitioner, however, contended that the information sought by him more than 20 months ago pertaining to “allotments of land and other benefits and privileges” was of public domain under Section 6 of the RTI Act.
Babar said that the rules and regulations pertaining to post-retirement benefits were subordinate legislation and laws made by parliament after open debate were public documents and so were the subordinate legislation made under them. He has been arguing that even the welfare benefits of a combatant could not be withheld from the public.