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Show Cause notice issued to Department of Stationery and Forms for not providing copies of gazettes through email to a citizen

Islamabad, July 29, 2020: Pakistan Information Commission on Wednesday issued Show Cause notice to the Department of Stationery and Forms for not implementing Order of the commission.

The show cause notice was issued on an appeal of citizen Syed Muhammad Amin Gilani Department of Stationery & Form

The citizen had sought information under the Right of Access to Information Act 2017 through a request for information in October 2019, sent to Director General of Department of Stationery and Forms (S&F). The citizen had requested “all published copies of the Gazette of Pakistan in possession of the Department of Stationery & Forms.

Through its Order dated February 25, 2020, the commission held that “the department of S&F is in possession of the requested information which it was legally bound to computerize and make accessible through online to the citizens of Pakistan. While the department may provide Gazettes to the citizens who prefer printed book and through annual subscription, the Respondent should also make all Gazettes accessible through online”.

The Department of Stationery and Forms was directed to provide the requested information to the Appellant through E-mail at the earliest, but in any case, not later than 10 working days after the issuance of the order. PIC also directed the Department of Stationery and Forms to take immediate steps to publish all Gazettes online and submit the compliance report to the commission by 24/03/2020.

In response to Show Cause notice for not implementing the Order of the commission, the Department of Stationery and Forms communicated through a letter dated 10-03-2020: “this Department is always ready to provide all information regarding Gazette to general public but on payment being saleable document as per this Department “Rules for Stocking, Distribution and sale of Government Publication Rules 8,13 &17 at page-8 & 9 and Dy. Financial Advisor Organization (Cabinet) revise price and annual subscription fee Gazette of Pakistan ordinary & Extra-ordinary Gazette of Pakistan vide UO No. (F.3 (20)-DFA (Cabinet) /2007-1435, dated 14.11.2007, Annexure-III & IV respectively”. 

The department of Stationery and Forms also “requested that the order to publish all Gazettes online may kindly be review and appellant may kindly be asked to ascertain his requirement of Gazette, enabling this department to let him cost of the same and on receipt of payment, Gazette will be supplied without loss of time.

Through Show Cause notice dated July 29, 2020, the commission directed the Department of Stationery and Forms to refer to   Section 25 of the Right of Access to Information Act 2017 which states that the “Act to override other laws— The provisions of this act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in any other law for the time being in force”

The commission directed Ms. Shaheen Controller (S&F) Department of Stationery and Forms (S&F), to appear in person before the commission on August 20, 2020 to provide reasons as to why proceedings may not be initiated under Section 20 (2) of the Right of Access to Information Act 2017 which is, 

“Non-compliance of a decision of the Information Commissioner under the clauses of (e) and (f) of sub-section (1) may, if it has not been appealed against within thirty days, be dealt with in the same way as contempt of court”.

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