This commission holds that inclusion of such wide ranging and sweeping confidentiality clause in the agreement is tantamount to infringing upon citizens’ constitutional right of access to information. In the instant Appeal, even if revenue earned by PTV is disclosed and not the ratio of revenue to be divided between the two parties, it will hit the confidentiality clause of the agreement as ratio can be arrived at by juxtaposing it with the total revenue, which is public information.
This commission notes with concern that citizens of Pakistan will not be able to exercise their constitutional right of access to information pertaining to whether YouTube channel of drama serial “Dirilis Ertugrul is owned by PTV, or, TRT World, share of PTV in the revenue generated through this channel and share of PTV in the total revenue generated through advertisements because the third party may go for arbitration causing huge financial losses to the government of Pakistan.
The purpose of the confidentiality clause in contract is to protect legitimate commercial interests of the private entities and not shrouding in the cloak of secrecy entire range of information/records which have nothing to do with the commercial interests of the private entities. Especially, after the insertion of Article 19-A through 18th Amendment in the constitution, federal public bodies are expected to ensure that only reasonable restrictions are imposed on citizens’ right of access to matters of public importance through the confidentiality clauses in the contracts.
This commission urges Principal Officers of federal public bodies to ensure balance between constitutional right of access to information and protecting legitimate commercial interests of third parties while signing commercial contracts. As such, contracts should exempt from disclosure certain specific commercial information and not the entire range of information through sweeping confidentiality clauses.