ISLAMABAD: In a significant and far-reaching decision, the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC) has ruled that the Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Service Corporation (PASSCO) is unequivocally considered a public body, falling under the purview of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017. This decision reaffirms the commitment to transparency and citizens’ rights to access crucial information.
The ruling comes in response to an appeal titled “Naeem Sadiq Vs Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Service Corporation,” where the Commission issued a detailed judgment.
The order issued by the Commission clarifies that PASSCO, despite its corporate commercial status as a Public Limited Company with 75% paid-up capital held by commercial banks and 25% by the Federal Government, carries out a significant public function. The administrative control of PASSCO rests with the Federal Government, as confirmed by the Rules of Business (Entry No. 31). This, according to Section 2 (ix) (d), (g), and (h) of the RTI Act, 2017, clearly classifies PASSCO as a public body.
The Commission also addressed the citation (2002 PLC (C.S) 1650) cited by PASSCO in its written statement, emphasizing that the case in question dealt with an employee dispute, not the organizational status of PASSCO. The Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled that, for certain purposes, PASSCO employees are deemed to be “civil servants.” However, when PASSCO is both administratively controlled by the Federal Government and performs public functions, it unquestionably falls within the definition of a public body under the RTI Act.
The Commission firmly rejected PASSCO’s claim that it does not qualify as a public body under Section 2 (ix) of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017.
In line with this ruling, the Pakistan Information Commission has directed PASSCO to provide the requested information to the appellant within 10 working days, ensuring the protection of citizens’ right to access vital information held by public bodies.
This decision represents a significant step in strengthening transparency, accountability, and citizens’ rights to access information in Pakistan.