Govt seeks sterner changes in defamation law
ISLAMABAD – The government introduced a bill in the National Assembly (NA) on July 29 to enhance the imprisonment and fine for anyone, including publisher, editor, reporter and distributor, held liable for defaming other people.
The amendments were proposed in the Defamation Ordinance 2002 and the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). The government held that defaming a person is a crime no less heinous than murder.
“It is observed that there is a general tendency to scandalise and defame others, including public figures, whereby perceptible injury to their reputation is caused, either for ulterior motive or through irresponsible conduct,” stated a written statement attached with the bill from the government. Seeking amendments in the Defamation Ordinance 2002, the bill proposes to increase the imprisonment from three months to one year and the fine from Rs 50,000 to Rs 300,000. “In case of libel, the publisher, editor, reporter and the distributor shall be severally and jointly liable to an action for defamation under the ordinance,” the proposed Amendment (4-A) said.
The bill proposes that the district and sessions judge shall have the authority to try the defamation cases and decide them within 90 days. It added that the high court shall decide the appeal against the sessions court judgement within 60 days. Under the proposed amendment in Section 500 of the PPC: “Whoever defames another shall be punished with imprisonment of either description of a term which may extend to five years, or with fine which shall not be less than Rs 100,000 or with both.” Another amendment was proposed in Section 501 of the PPC to increase the imprisonment from two years to seven years. It also proposed a fine not less than Rs 200,000. The government argued that under Article 14 of the Constitution of Pakistan the dignity of man and, subject to law, the privacy of home, was inviolable. It quoted Holy Quran as saying: “Those who love (to see) scandal broadcast among the believer, will have a grievous penalty in this life and in the hereafter.”
Source: Daily Times