Minister opposes bill to exempt parliament’s proceedings from right to information law

ISLAMABAD: The information minister has disapproved of an amendment bill introduced by the ruling party’s lawmakers in Senate that seeks to exclude both the houses of the parliament from the ambit of the Right to Information Act.

“Since the government wants transparency in governance and the parliament’s proceedings, it does not want to keep any information secret from the nation,” Fawad Chaudhary said at a meeting of the upper house’s standing committee on information on Monday. Senator Faisal Javed chaired the proceedings, during which the committee started deliberations on the Right of Access to Information (Amendment) Bill 2020, referred to it on Jan 25 this year.

Senator Javed lamented the absence of the bill’s movers from the meeting.

The bill has been moved jointly by Sajjad Hussain Turi, Walid Iqbal, Mohammad Ali Khan Saif, Manzoor Ahmed and Mirza Mohammad Afridi, all PTI members.

The draft proposes that the Senate and the National Assembly be excluded from purview of the law in order to maintain sanctity and privacy of parliament.

Senator Irfan Siddiqui (PML-N) said the bill smacked of double standards, wondering how the legislature could seek exemption for itself from the act after bringing all other public bodies within its purview.

Discussion on the proposed amendments was deferred to be taken up in the next committee meeting since the movers of the bill requested the committee to put off the deliberations.

Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar (PPP) pointed out that the committee was being criticised over the bill while the movers appeared to have no interest in proceedings.

He suggested the bill be rejected in case the movers did not show up at the next meeting.

Source: Dawn

Fawad Chaudhry 1

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