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Order on Appeal No 1740-02/22 Naeem Sadiq Vs Ministry of Foreign Affairs

As the Minister-in-Charge has not recorded reasons for classifying the requested information/record, this commission is left with no option but to determine as to whether disclosure of the requested letters written to provinces as to who could hunt and how many Houbara Bustards is in public interest and whether harm from disclosure of this information outweighs public interest.

While there are strong arguments for the disclosure of the requested information in public interest, this commission is also mindful of the obligation of the state of Pakistan to its people to keep the requested information shrouded in the veil of secrecy in the larger economic interest of the people of Pakistan. In short, the idea is right, the time is not, especially given the interplay between the economic interests of the people of Pakistan and the inter-state relations at the present moment. Hence, the requested information cannot be disclosed under Section 7 (f) and Section 16 (1) (ii) which states that information is exempted from disclosure if “its disclosure is likely to cause damage to the interests of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in the conduct of International Relation”.

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Order on Appeal No. 1972-06/2022 Naeem Sadiq Vs Defence Housing Authority, Karachi

The appellant in the instant appeal has requested information about the number of daily wage janitors employed through DHA Janitorial Services at each location / institution / Department of DHA, such as DHA Head Office, DHA Club, Phase 2 etc.

The appellant has also requested information about Monthly Salary actually received by each of these daily wage janitors. Please mention actual salary paid to janitors and not what is written in contract between DHA and the contractor.

The appeal is allowed and the Administrator, Defence Housing Authority, Karachi is directed to furnish the appellant all the requested information and record, forthwith, but in any case not later than seven days of the receipt of this order.

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Order on Appeal No 1737-02/22 Naeem Sadiq Vs Federal Government Employees Housing Authority

This commission also holds that expecting contractors to abide by the labour laws of the land, without ensuring implementation of these laws by seeking means of verification from the contractors is not only tantamount to violation of legal obligations on the part of the relevant officers of the Respondent, FGEHA but it also tantamount to throwing the employees at the mercy of market forces.
It is responsibility of the Respondent, FGEHA to maintain and disclose records pertaining to the current monthly salary actually paid to sanitation / sanitary staff, their duty hours, information about weekly holiday, number of sanitation / sanitary staff registered with EOBI along with EOBI registration numbers of those registered with EOBI, information total number of sanitation / sanitary staff registered with Social Security along with Social Security registration numbers of those registered with Social Security.
The disclosure of the requested information will shed light on how public funds are being spent through the contractor and the extent to which the Respondent, FGEHA has ensured that these public funds are spent in line with the laws of the land.
In the instant Appeal, Sindh High Court Constitutional Petition No. D-852 of 2019 Dated 10 March 2021 is also relevant. While dealing with the question as to whether the employees of a labour contractor can be considered as the employees of the establishment, where they work through labour contractors, the Honourable Sindh High Court refers to the Honourable Supreme Court judgment (2013 SCMR 1253) by saying, “ In the case where an employer retains or assumes control over the means and method by which the work of a Contractor is to be done, it may be said that the relationship of employer and employee exists between him and the employees of the contractor. Further, an employee who is involved in the running of the affairs of the company; under the direct supervision and control of the company; working within the premises of the company, involved directly or indirectly in the manufacturing process, shall be deemed to be employees of the company. The Honourable Sindh High Court judgment further declares, “Keeping in view the rule of parity and equity, all the janitorial staff even if considered to be the employees of the contractor, which is not the correct position, they have been performing duties of permanent nature ought to have been on regular strength of respondent-cantonment boards.”.

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Order of Appeal No 1861-04/22 Naeem Sadiq Vs Pakistan Post

This commission holds that it is responsibility of the Respondent to keep records of the means of verification to ensure that the contractor is actually providing the minimum wages to private security guards along with the allied facilities. It is tantamount to throwing the employees at the mercy of market forces.
It is responsibility of the Respondent, Post Office to maintain and disclose records pertaining to the current monthly salary actually paid to each guard, their duty hours, information about weekly holiday, number of guards registered with EOBI along with EOBI registration numbers of those registered with EOBI, information total number of guards registered with Social Security along with Social Security registration numbers of those registered with Social Security.

The disclosure of the requested information will shed light on how public funds are being spent through the contractor and the extent to which the Respondent has ensured that these public funds are spent in line with the laws of the land.
In the instant Appeal, Sindh High Court Constitutional Petition No. D-852 of 2019 Dated 10 March 2021 is also relevant. While dealing with the question as to whether the employees of a labour contractor can be considered as the employees of the establishment, where they work through labour contractors, the Honourable Sindh High Court refers to the Honourable Supreme Court judgment (2013 SCMR 1253) by saying, “ In the case where an employer retains or assumes control over the means and method by which the work of a Contractor is to be done, it may be said that the relationship of employer and employee exists between him and the employees of the contractor. Further, an employee who is involved in the running of the affairs of the company; under the direct supervision and control of the company; working within the premises of the company, involved directly or indirectly in the manufacturing process, shall be deemed to be employees of the company. The Honourable Sindh High Court judgment further declares, “Keeping in view the rule of parity and equity, all the janitorial staff even if considered to be the employees of the contractor, which is not the correct position, they have been performing duties of permanent nature ought to have been on regular strength of respondent-cantonment boards.”.

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Order on Appeal No 1295-08/21 Naeem Sadiq Vs Employees Old Age Benefit Institution

In the instant Appeal the citizen has requested Employees Old Age Benefit Institution for information regarding the Monthly Salary and total salary paid by the EOBI to the Chairman during the period 2019-2021 and Amount spent on Medical Treatment, medicines and Lab Tests of the Chairman and his family that were paid by the EOBI during these two years.

The Respondent has provided incomplete information against which the appellant has filed rejoinder.

This Commission allowed the Appeal and directed the public body to provide complete information to the appellant within 7 working days.

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Order on Appeal No 1339-09/2021 Naeem Sadiq Vs Cantonment Board Malir, Karachi

This Commission holds that mere insertion of clause xxxii of existing conservancy agreement 2020-2021 does not absolve the Respondent from its responsibility to ensure that labour laws of the land are being adhered to by the conservancy contractor with regard to the payment of minimum wages to the staff working for the Respondent as announced by the Government from time to time as public funds are involved. As held by the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan in Naimatullah Khan and others v. Federation of Pakistan (2020 SCMR 513), while relying on Habibullah Energy Limited and another v. WAPDA and others (PLD 2014 SC 47), it is a well settled principle of law that all public functionaries must exercise public authority, especially while dealing with the public property, public funds, or assets in a fair, just, transparent and reasonable manner, untainted by mala fide, without discrimination and in accordance with law, keeping in view the Constitutional rights of the citizens”. That further, in Hakeem Muhammad Saeed v. Deputy Commissioner, Vehari and others (PLD 2020 Lahore 110), dealing with the right to information, the Lahore High Court found, at paragraph 3: “Right to information is the right that a citizen has, of access to information from the government and statutory bodies that receive public funds. RTI is based on the principle that information belongs to the people. It boosts transparency, which in turn strengthens accountability, reduces corruption and improves delivery of public services”.

This Commission is of the view that it is responsibility of the public bodies to maintain records of all the transactions to ensure that public funds, spent directly, or, through contractors, to perform official functions, are utilized in accordance with the laws of the land. In Nisar Khan Khattak v. Haji Adam, Director General (Admin), PEMRA and another (2021 PLC (C.S.) 140), the Islamabad High Court observed, at paragraph 12: “Every holder of a public office by virtue of which he acts on behalf of the State or public body is ultimately accountable to the people in whom the sovereignty vests. As such, all powers so vested in him are meant to be exercised for public good and promoting the public interest. This is equally true of all actions even in the field of contract. Thus, every holder of a public office is a trustee whose highest duty is to the people of the country, and therefore, every act of the holder of a public office, irrespective of the label classifying that act, is in discharge of public duty meant ultimately for public good”. Further, in the Lahore High Court held, at paragraph 4, relying on Shaukat Ali v. Government Dildar Ali v. D.C.O. Chiniot and others (2015 CLC 1141), of Pakistan (PLD 1997 SC 342): “It is held that State functionaries are expected to act fairly and justly in a manner which should not give to any one any cause of complaint on account of discriminatory treatment or otherwise. While discharging official functions, efforts should be made by State functionaries to ensure that no one is denied the right to earn his livelihood because of the unfair or discriminatory act on their part”.

It is apparent from the response that the Respondent has not maintained record pertaining to the use of public funds, which is a serious matter of maladministration.
Cantonment Executive Officer, Cantonment Board Malir is directed to maintain records pertaining to the minimum wages paid to the staff hired through the contractor, ensuring through means of verification that funds are spent in accordance with the relevant labour laws of the country from the day of the receipt of this Order and submit compliance report to this commission after one month of the receipt of this Order.
Cantonment Executive Officer, Cantonment Board Malir is directed to conduct enquiry as to why the Respondent has failed to maintain records pertaining to the minimum wages paid to the staff hired through the contractor, reflecting through means of verification involving the input from staff and the contractor that funds were spent in accordance with the relevant labour laws of the land from the date of the signing of the contract and share the enquiry report with this commission within one month of the receipt of this Order.

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Order on Appeal No 1108-05/21 Naeem Sadiq Vs Pakistan Mineral Development Coporation

This commission holds that the Respondent, PMDC is a public body under the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017, a fact admitted by the Respondent when it submitted before this commission that “Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (abbreviate “PMDC”) is a public sector corporate body owned (100%) by the Govt of Pakistan and registered with Security & Exchange Commission of Pakistan. Furthermore, the Respondent, PMDC was established in 1974 with authorized capital of 1000 million rupees as per information available on its web site.

This commission holds that a citizen is not required to establish ‘locus standi’ to exercise the constitutional right of access to information. In fact, Section 11 (5) of the Act specifically mentions that an applicant is not required to provide reasons for seeking information from a public body.

This commission is of the view that instead of dwelling upon motive behind application, the Respondent, PMDC should have juxtaposed items of the requested information with the provisions of the Act and provided information to the applicant if so, warranted by the provisions of the Act.

This commission maintains that disclosure of requested information about the total number of coal mines in each of the three ranges, total number of miners working in all mines of each range, their starting salary (first 2 years) of miners working in each range, whether salary is paid by cheque or cash,   copy of the sample appointment letter (if any) from each mine; information about number of hours of work done by miners in each mine of each of the 3 ranges, whether miners are registered with EOBI or not, in case of registration, their registration numbers of registered miners of each mine of each of the three ranges, whether miners are registered with Social Security or not, If yes, information about their Social Security registration numbers of registered miners of each mine of each of the three ranges Is a matter of public importance.

This commission holds that the disclosure of requested information is neither likely to cause damage to financial interests of PMDC nor this disclosure is likely to cause any damage to any lawful commercial activities of the Respondent PMDC.

The disclosure of requested information will reveal as to what extent constitutional right of human dignity and right to gainful employment of minors employed by the Respondent, PMDC are being protected. Furthermore, the disclosure of the requested information will also reveal as to how the Respondent, PMDC is protecting labour rights of the minors working in its mines.

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Order on Appeal No 1221-07-2021 Naeem Sadiq Vs Military Lands and Cantonments

The Appellant Mr. Naeem Sadiq concerned about the lesser amount of wages being paid to the contracted janitors and also their non-registration with the EOBI and Social Security, by a large number of Cantonments, wants to know the following information for all 44 Cantonments from the office of the Director General, Military Lands and Cantonments, through his application dated 29.04.2021 invoking the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017:

1. “Please provide in YES or NO the following 4 information about janitors employed themselves on contract by each of the 44 Cantt Boards.
a. Do they receive the current min wage of Rs. 17500 or not.
b. Do they receive 4 monthly holidays or not.
c. Are they registered with EOBI.
d. Are they registered with Social Security.
e. Do they have an appointment letter given to them. Please attach a sample of the appointment letter which gives details of their employment conditions.
2. Please provide in YES or NO the following 4 information about janitors employed through 3rd party contractors by each of the 44 Cantt Boards.
a. Do they receive the current min wage of Rs. 17500 pm or not.
b. Do they receive 4 monthly holidays or not.
c. Are they registered with EOBI.
d. Are they registered with Social Security?
e. Do they have an appointment letter given to them? Please attach a sample of the appointment letter which gives details of their employment conditions.”

Aggrieved by the no response from the respondent organization with in the stipulated frame of time provided in the Act, he filed appeal before the Pakistan Information Commission.

This Commission directed Military Lands and Cantonment Department, Ministry of Defense, Rawalpindi to furnish the appellant all the requested information and record detailed, forthwith but not later than ten working days of the receipt of this order.
He is further directed to make sure the compliance of the Section 5 of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017 within one month, under intimation to this Commission.

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Order on Appeal No 1189-07/21 Naeem Sadiq Vs National Commission on the Rights of Child

The commission held that all the letters issued by NCRC to Federal and Provincial Governments are public documents and their certified copies be provided to the Appellant. These letters will reveal information about steps and initiatives taken by NCRC to protect and promote rights of the children in accordance with its mandate.

The commission also maintained that the reply submitted by the Respondent, NCRC that “consultation meetings with various authorities of the Federal and Provincial Governments” is vague. Minutes of official meetings are kept to record the proceedings of such meetings and these minutes should be made public so that citizens could know as to how many meetings, at what level of the federal and provincial governments these meetings were held and what transpired during these meetings, for, these meetings are held with funds provided by the citizens of Pakistan. Similarly, records in the shape of documents, reports and letters sent to federal and provincial governments pertaining to the review of the policies are public documents and should have been shared with the Appellant.

While the web site of the NCRC is not ready, it should have shared with the Appellant any record indicating steps taken, like domain registration and hosting services contacted for the launch of the web site with the Appellant.

The commission also held that draft Rules should not be treated as ‘intermediary opinions’ and thus exempted from disclosure. The draft Rules cannot be treated as a record whose premature disclosure may hinder frank and candid internal discussion. In fact, draft Rules should be shared with citizens and experts so that they could give input on the draft Rules to make these Rules effective. Furthermore, sharing of draft Rules will help achieve the objective of public participation in the affairs of governance as enunciated in the Right of Access to Information Act 2017.

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Order on Appeal No.E73-01/21 Naeem Sadiq Vs Employees Old Age Benefits Institution (EOBI)

To the question “what are total number of industries (province wise), who were punished (fined or sentenced to jail) in each of the two years 2018 and 2019, the Respondent maintained that it is ‘N/A’.

This commission is of the view that the response of the Respondent is legally untenable under, inter alia, Section 37, (Chapter 8) of the Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Act, 1976.

The Respondent, EOBI should have provided information about the action taken under Section 37, (Chapter 8) of the Employees’ Old-Age Benefits Act, 1976   or should have responded that no action has been taken against any entity/person based on powers vested in EOBI through its Act. “N/A”, is incorrect response.

 

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