Information Seekers

Who can apply for information? Top
Any citizen of Pakistan or an organization registered in Pakistan can apply for information under the Act.
   
Which departments or institutions I can seek information from? Top
You can seek information from any department, attached department, organization, institution, court, tribunal, commission, office, board or a body established or funded by the Government of the Punjab.
 
Can I access information from private institutions or organizations? Top
You can access information from those private institutions or organizations, which are substantially financed by the provincial or a local government.
   
What are the types of information that I can’t access? Top
You can access any information from a pubic body, which is not exempt under section 13 of the Act. The exceptions relate to the records where disclosure of the information shall or is likely to cause harm to:
  • National defence or security, public order or international relations of Pakistan
  • A legitimate privacy interest, unless the person concerned has consented to disclosure of the information
  • The protection of legally privileged information or of the rules relating to breach of confidence
  • The legitimate commercial interests of a public body or a third party, including information subject to third party intellectual property rights
  • The life, health or safety of any person
  • The prevention or detection of crime, the apprehension or prosecution of offenders, or the administration of justice
  • The ability of the Government to manage the economy
  • The effective formulation of or success of a policy either by its premature disclosure or by restraining the free and frank provision of advice within the Government
The Commission, however, can even order disclosure of exempt information if it reaches the conclusion that the public interest in disclosure outweighs the protected interests.
   
How can I apply for information? Top
You can write application for access to information on a plain paper or on an optional form developed and disseminated by the Commission. You should address your application to the public information officer (PIO) designated by the relevant public body. In your application, you must:
  • Precisely describe the information that you need
  • Explain in which form you need access to information (e.g. photocopy, CD or an electronic copy, inspection of work/record etc
  • Provide your contact details including postal address, telephone/cell number or, if available, email address
   
How do I know who is the PIO in a public body and how s(he) can be contacted? Top
You should call any office of the relevant public body or visit its website to find out about the PIO and his/her contact details. You may also find contact details of the PIO on the website of the Commission.
   
What should I do if I can’t find out the contact details of the relevant PIO? Top
If you can’t find out who is the PIO in the public body from which you need information, you can address and send your application to head of the public body in the related district or administrative unit. However, if you send your application directly to the PIO, you will be likely to get a quicker response.
   
What should a person do who is illiterate or disable and can’t write an application? Top
A person who is disable or illiterate and can’t write an application, s(he) should approach the relevant PIO, who is duty bound under the law to provide necessary assistance to such a person.
   
Am I required to personally appear before a PIO to apply for the information that I need? Top
No, you are not required to personally appear before the PIO to submit the application. You can submit your application in the following ways:
  • By Post: if you choose this method, you should preferably send your application by registered post. You should keep a copy of your application and the receipt as a proof that you have, indeed, applied for access to information
  • By Email: You can apply by email if the relevant PIO has got an official e-mail address
  • Personal submission: You can visit the office of the PIO and personally submit your application. In this instance, you must demand and get a receipt as a proof for the submission of your application.
   
Do I have to pay fee for obtaining information? Top
No, you are not required to pay any fee at the time of submitting your application. However, if your application for access to information is accepted, the PIO may communicate to you the actual cost of reproducing the information that you had requested. The cost of reproducing and providing information will be calculated and should be paid strictly in accordance with the Schedule of Costs notified by the Commission. 
   
How long it takes the PIO or a public body to provide the requested information? Top
Ordinarily, the PIO must decide your application and provide you the requested information within 14 working days of the receipt of your application. However, the PIO can extend the duration by another 14 days if he needs to consult a third party, or if the requested information has to be collected from multiple offices or searched from extensive records. If the PIO extends the response time, he must inform you about it. If the requested information is about the life and liberty of a person, the PIO shall provide it to you within 2 working days. However, it shall take a little longer if you sent your application to an officer other than the PIO. In such a case, the above-mentioned time limits shall start from the date the PIO gets the application after having been transferred by the officer who originally received it.
   
Can a PIO or public body deny my access to information by referring to other laws or rules under laws other than the Punjab Transparency and RTI Act 2013? Top
No, the Punjab Transparency and RTI Act 2013 takes precedence over all other laws. Therefore, no other law or rules can be relied upon to deny access to information sought under the Punjab Transparency and RTI Act 2013. However, access to information can be denied if it is hit by any of the exceptions mentioned in section 13 of the Act.
   
What can I do if I don’t get the requested information within the prescribe time or if I have another grievance? Top
In case of a grievance, you have 2 options:
Option A
Within 60 days since the cause of your grievance, you can approach the head of the relevant public body and seek internal review against
  • A failure by the public information officer to comply with any provision of the Act including failure to communicate decision within the specified time
  • Unreasonable behaviour by the public information officer in the exercise of any discretion under the Act
  • Provision of incomplete, misleading or false information under the Act
  • Any other matter relating to requesting or obtaining access to information
  • The head of the public body shall decide your request for internal review within 14 days.

Option B 
If you don’t want to apply for internal review or if you are not satisfied with the result of internal review, you can approach the Commission with your complaint on any of the following grounds:

  • Wrongful denial of access to information
  • Non provision of information within the stipulated time
  • Refusal to receive and process the request from an applicant
  • Furnishing false, misleading or incomplete information
  • Charging fee or cost for provision of information in excess of the requisite fee
  • Deliberate destruction of information to avoid its disclosure
  • Failure of a public body to implement the provisions regarding proactive disclosure
  • Violation of any other provision of the Act by a public body
The Commission shall decide your complaint within 30 days of its receipt or, for good reasons to be recorded in writing, within sixty days.
   
What is the procedure of internal review or a complaint to the Commission? Top
You should first decide whether you want to file an internal review to head of the public body or complaint to the Commission. You must NOT approach the two forums concurrently. Whichever forum you choose to approach for the redress of your grievance, you can write your application on a plain paper by including the following information:
  • Describe the nature of your grievance in sufficient detail. Also please attach, if available, any supporting documents such as a copy of your original application, evidence of submission of application (e.g. copy of the postal receipt) and copies of correspondence with the PIO or another officer, etc
  • Clearly spell out the relief that you need through internal review or from the Commission. You may also include your arguments or furnish evidence in support of the relief that you are seeking
  • Provide your contact details including postal address, cell phone number and, if available, email address
   
What should I do if I don’t get the requested information despite a favorable order obtained as a result of internal review or complaint to the Commission? Top
It is a legal responsibility of the PIO and/or of the public body to implement orders of the Commission unless a higher court sets the same aside. However, if such a situation arises, you can approach the Commission, which can then proceed against the relevant officer(s) under section 15 and/or section 16 of the Act.