Mirpur: (Azadi Times) The Azad Jammu and Kashmir High Court (AJKHC) has accepted a writ petition filed by senior journalist Zafar Mughal on the issue of access to information in Azad Kashmir.
The petition, which was filed in the Mirpur circuit of the AJKHC, states that the government of Azad Kashmir has not fully implemented the constitutional provisions of the Right to Information Act, including the establishment of Information Tribunals/Commissions and the appointment of Public Information Officers in government and semi-government institutions.
The petition further states that Azad Kashmir lags behind in implementing its own Right to Information Act despite the presence of access to information laws at the federal and provincial levels in Pakistan.
As a result, journalists, lawyers, and the general public face difficulties in getting accurate information and disseminating it to the public due to non-compliance with constitutional and legal requirements.
Officials often refuse to provide accurate information, thereby violating the Constitution. This lack of access to accurate information hampers the work of journalists and deprives the public of important information.
The AJKHC has issued notices to the government of Azad Kashmir, the Information Commission, and the Public Information Officers, and has directed them to file their reply by July 18, 2023.
The court has also ordered the respondents to submit written statements, affidavits, and relevant documents to ensure the implementation of the Right to Information Act in Azad Kashmir.
The petition is a welcome step towards ensuring transparency and accountability in the government of Azad Kashmir. It is hoped that the court will issue a judgment that will help to improve the flow of information in the region and promote good governance.
The Right to Information Act is a law that guarantees the right of citizens to access information held by the government. The act was passed by the Parliament of Pakistan in 2016, and it has been implemented in all four provinces of Pakistan. However, the government of Azad Kashmir has not yet implemented the act.
The lack of implementation of the Right to Information Act in Azad Kashmir has been a major concern for journalists, lawyers, and civil society activists. They argue that the lack of transparency in the government is hindering good governance and promoting corruption.
The writ petition filed by Zafar Mughal is a significant step towards ensuring the implementation of the Right to Information Act in Azad Kashmir. It is hoped that the court will issue a judgment that will help to improve the flow of information in the region and promote good governance.