This commission holds that the plea of the Respondent that the requested information is available to the Appellant as it has earlier provided to TDEA where he is working as an employee does not hold water. The Appellant, as a citizen of Pakistan, can seek information from the Respondent, irrespective of the fact that he works in TDEA to whom the Respondent has already provided some/all of the requested information.
This commission holds that the Respondent, instead of dwelling upon the motives of the Appellant for seeking the information, should have decided on his request for information under the provisions of the Act, 2017.
This commission holds that every citizen of Pakistan has locus standi to seek information from public bodies and under Section 11 (5) of the Act, 2017, officials are specifically forbidden to ask the applicant to submit reasons for seeking information. This also means that the officers are not supposed to dwell upon the motives for seeking the information.
This commission holds that the Respondent has provided some of the requested information but not the all information/records permissible under the Act, 2017 as identified by the Appellant in tabular form in his rejoinder.
The Act, 2017 takes precedence over all other laws with regard to what information is to be shared, how is it to be shared and what fee will be charge.
The assertion of the Respondent that the Appellant should pay in advance cost of the time of its employees for providing the requested information does not hold water.
So far as the fee regarding the hard copies of the information/records is concerned, the Schedule of Costs, notified by Pakistan Information Commission In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 27 (b)of the Act 2017 comes into play. According to this, the Respondent is bound to provide first 50 pages free of cost and can only charge Rs.2 per page for any extra copy. There is no provision for charging the time of its employees involved in copying the records.
So far as the cost of CD, diskette, floppy, cassette, video or any other electronic device containing information is concerned, the Schedule of Costs states that public bodies shall only charge the actual cost of such a device, as determined on the basis of official procurement record. However, no cost is to be charged if the applicant provides his or her own device and requires only an electronic copy of the information.