LAHORE: Despite reluctance from the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), the Punjab Information Commission (PIC) has declared answer sheets of the commission’s exams a public document, saying that the sheets will remain confidential until the result is announced, Pakistan Today learnt on Thursday.
The PIC, while giving its findings in the case of Noman-ul-Haq, said, “The answer sheet of a candidate is not a privileged document and it is a classified document until announcement of results.”
The PIC referred Article 19-A and stated that according to the article, every citizen shall have the right to access information in all matters of public importance. “Any public body, having its own regulations, does not become immune from the legal and constitutional norms,” it added.
The commission, after accepting the appeal of Haq, ordered to the PPSC’s public information officer to issue a certified copy of requisite information to the candidate within three days.
Speaking to Pakistan Today, PIC Chief Commissioner Mehboob Qadir Shah said that access to information has always been a difficult task but the commission is trying its best to make all kinds of information available to the general public. “Whenever we receive a complaint from a citizen that he or she is not getting required information from any government department, our commission not only responds promptly but also provides the information to the concerned citizen within 15 days. Penalties and fines under the RTI Act are also imposed upon those, who do not share information deliberately,” Mehboob added.
During the proceedings of the appeal, the PPSC had responded to the PIC that Haq’s answer sheet was thoroughly checked and no errors were found, adding that answer sheets are classified documents and cannot be provided.
According to documents, Haq, who was a candidate for the post of Assistant Director Public Prosecutor (ADPP), had appealed to the PIC against the PPSC under the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013 after the PPSC had refused to provide him certified copies of his answer sheet.