The appellant has asked for the provision of information pertaining to the current executive director, the details of patients with billing detail who were treated for eye lenses, the details of the free eye camps organized, the details of patients treated in free eye camps, the details of doctors with qualifications and experience currently appointed, the details of international and national donors with grants and the detail of warning letters and showcase notices issued to the staff working in Al-Shifa Eye Trust Hospital during 2021 till date.
The administration of Al-Shifa Eye Trust Hospital although has provided most of the information but on the other hand has claimed exemption from disclosure. It is stated that Al-Shifa Trust Eye Hospital is a Non Government, Non Profit Charity Organization, that information sought by the applicant are private, privileged, exempted and relates to privacy of individual and disclosure of such information will damage the interest of the Charitable Trust and that as per Section 2 of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017, it is applicable to public bodies of the Federal Government.
Information Commissioner, Zahid Abdullah in his dissenting note has stated that there is no stigma attached with free treatment if a person cannot afford such a treatment. In other words, there is no invasion of privacy if community comes to know that a particular individual got treatment for free at Al-Shifa Trust Eye Hospital. Therefore, there is no harm in disclosing the names and addresses of beneficiaries of public funds, if there is at all, it far outweighs the benefits.
The stigma should be attached with people who can otherwise afford but get concessions and benefits from public bodies in connivance with corrupt officials.
The stigma should be attached with those corrupt officials who fudge numbers, register either ‘fake’, or, ‘underserving beneficiaries and embezzle public funds knowing that names and addresses of the recipients of public funds will stay hidden.
If names and addresses of beneficiaries are proactively published, as the law requires, it would help curb corrupt practices.
The appeal is disposed of.