Thursday, June 13, 2024
HomeBlogPunjab Defamation Act, 2024 challenged in Lahore High Court

Punjab Defamation Act, 2024 challenged in Lahore High Court

LAHOREThe Punjab Defamation Act of 2024, passed by the provincial assembly, has been challenged in the Lahore High Court.

Journalist Jafar Ahmed Yar and Raja Riaz filed the petition in the Lahore High Court, represented by advocate Nadeem Sarwar. The petition includes the chief minister and Punjab governor, represented by his principal secretary, as well as the Punjab government.

The petitioner claims that defamation laws violate the Constitution and the law. A new law cannot be enacted while the defamation ordinance and act are in effect.

The petitioner claimed that the government did not consult with journalists while enacting new legislation. He claimed that the defamation law was rushed through to limit the freedom of journalists and the media.

The petitioner requested that the court declare the defamation law null and void and suspend its implementation until a final decision was reached on the petition.

Acting Punjab Governor Signs Defamation Bill.

Meanwhile, Acting Punjab Governor Malik Ahmed Khan has confirmed that he will sign the Defamation Bill.

A summary of this effect has been sent to the Ministry of Law for publication in the gazette. Following the issuance of a gazette notification, the defamation law will formally take effect in Punjab and apply to all citizens.

The Punjab Assembly passed the Punjab Defamation Bill, 2024, last month, and it was sent to Punjab Governor Sardar Salim Haider for approval.

The governor refused to sign the bill, citing some reservations. Following that, the Punjab government held a meeting with Governor Punjab, which produced no results.

According to sources, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) contacted President Asif Ali Zardari following the meeting with the Governor of Punjab. The President advised the Governor of Punjab to go on leave.

Governor Punjab went on leave from June 6 to June 12, after which Speaker Punjab Assembly Malik Ahmad Khan took over as Acting Governor and signed the bill the following day (June 7).

WHAT IS THE PUNJAB DEFAMATION BILL 2024

The Punjab Assembly passed the Defamation Bill, 2024, presented by Punjab Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman, on May 20 amidst opposition and journalist protests.

“Subject to the provisions of this Act and any other law for the time being in force, defamation shall be a civil wrong and the person defamed may initiate an action under this Act without proof of actual damage or loss and, where defamation is proved, general damages shall be presumed to have been suffered by the person defamed,” the legislation states.

The bill will also apply to fake news distributed via YouTube and social media platforms. Under the law, tribunals will be established to hear defamation cases. The tribunals will be required to decide the case within six months.

According to the Punjab government, which is led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the bill addresses misinformation on social media platforms such as YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, allowing defamation cases to be filed against those who spread fake news.

The defamation bill proposes fines of up to Rs3 million for spreading fake news, as well as special tribunals to hear defamation cases with quick verdicts. The bill also states that the high court will hear cases involving allegations against individuals holding constitutional offices.

Ahmed Khan Bhachar, the opposition leader in the Punjab Assembly, described the Defamation Bill, 2024, as a “black law”.

He made the remarks after the opposition benches’ amendments were rejected by the House. During the session, opposition lawmakers protested loudly and tore up copies of the bill.

Journalist leaders believed that the government stabbed them in the back after negotiating the bill.
What is the Punjab Defamation Bill, 2024




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