ISLAMABAD: The federal government has finally notified the Federal Information Commission to ensure access to information by the public at large from the public-sector departments. The commission has been constituted under the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017, which was enacted by the parliament on October 16, 2017. Notification for the commission has been issued along with the appointment of chief information commissioner and two members. The commission would be based in Islamabad and act as an independent body, however its funding would come from the annual budget of the Ministry of Information. The commission would act as an appellate body to receive, examine and decide formal complaints and applications against government departments refusing to share non-classified information with the citizens at the federal level. The commission, under the law, was to be constituted within six months but it took almost a year due to slow bureaucratic processes and delay in deciding the names of the chief information commissioner and the information commissioners. During the PML-N government, the then information minister Marriyum Aurangzeb had made several commitments to the media on the matter but could not fulfil the pledges. Former federal information secretary Muhammad Azam has been appointed as chief information commissioner, while senior lawyer Jawad Malik and Zahid Abdullah have been appointed as information commissioners. Zahid Abdullah, who lost sight after an ailment, played vital role in the drafting of the RTI laws in Punjab, KP, Sindh and at the federal level and is considered an authority on the matter. The information ministry has finalized rules for the commission. Under the rules, the commission would also raise public awareness among the general public about their right to information and would hold seminars and workshops across country. The commission has powers to penalise a government official for not disclosing the non-classified information about public matters upon a complaint filed by any citizen. Published in Daily Times, November 11th 2018.