This commission takes strong exception to the fact that the Respondent, Senate Secretariat, instead of responding to the information request under the provisions of the Act, 2017 and keeping into consideration earlier Orders of the commission involving Senate Secretariat, it has again submitted arguments on which this commission has given its detailed verdicts.
This commission finds it extremely unfortunate that such an august office as the Senate Secretariat, instead of approaching the next legal forum to set aside verdicts of this commission, keeps on relitigating its case pertaining to the jurisdiction of this commission and the authority of the Chairman, Senate of Pakistan again and again with legal arguments settled by this commission through its earlier judgements.
The Senate Secretariat has yet again submitted before this commission that “authority of the Honorable Chairman Senate to declare certain information as classified is absolute, unqualified and final to which no exception could be taken”.
With due deference to Honorable Chairman Senate, this commission again holds, in the absence of any specific court verdict to the contrary, that the authority of Hon’ble Chairman, Senate of Pakistan to declare certain information as classified is neither absolute, unqualified nor final” under the provisions of the Act, 2017.
This commission again reiterates that as far as the procedure provided in Section 7(f) of the Act regarding the exclusion of record is concerned, the Chairman Senate is the custodian of the House of Federation and can’t claim in any manner to be the Minister in Charge of the Federal Government.
The Respondent, Senate Secretariat has also again submitted that “the Honorable Pakistan Information Commission lacks jurisdiction to sit in appeal over the decision of Honorable Chairman or to interpret provisions of Section 7 (f) in a different way which otherwise is sole prerogative of superior judiciary”.
This commission again maintains that the assertion of the Respondent, Senate Secretariat that “the Honorable Pakistan Information Commission lacks jurisdiction to sit in appeal over the decision of Honorable Chairman or to interpret provisions of Section 7 (f) in a different way” is contradictory to the provisions of the Act, 2017 and established principles of justice. Firstly, this line of reasoning runs contrary to the established principle that of justice nemo judex in sua causa. Secondly, the Burdon of proof, under Section 18 (5) of the Act, 2017 is on the public body to demonstrate that it acted in accordance with the provisions of the Act, 2017. As nobody can be judge of in his or her own cause, the head of a public body can only record reasons as to how disclosure of requested information is likely to cause harm than serve any public interest.