The commission observed that it is unfortunate that the Respondent, Ministry of Law and Justice, which should have served as an example for all other federal public bodies with regard to the implementation of the Right of Access to Information Act 2017, has maintained deafening silence with regard to the request for information and the notices of the commission. It is reasonable to expect that of all the federal public bodies, the Respondent, Ministry of Law and Justice, should have been more aware of the fact that the Right of Access to Information Act 2017 has empowered citizens to seek information from civil servants and they are legally bound to acknowledge their information requests and respond to them within specific time-frame.
It is ironical that the Respondent has neither provided requested information about the steps taken to ensure proactive disclosure of information through its web site, nor, as the cursory analysis of its web site suggests, published specific information on its web site as required under Section 5 of the Act.
The Right of Access to Information Act 2017 was enacted on October 16, 2017. The Act provided ample time of six months to each Principal Officer of a federal public bodies to ensure the publication of categories of information mentioned in Section 5 on its web site.
In the instant Appeal, the citizen has sought specific information about steps taken by the Respondent to ensure publication of information/records on its web site. This commission is of the view that trust of citizens in public institutions is irrevocably linked with timely and accurate flow of information between citizens and public institutions. However, this would only be possible when Principal Officers of federal public bodies would ensure implementation of the Right of Access to Information Act 2017 in letter and spirit.
The commission is of the view that all federal public bodies are required to determine which categories of information are available on their web site and which are missing by juxtaposing each category of information mentioned in Section 5 of the Right of Access to Information Act 2017 with the information made available on their web sites.