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Govt considering law to end defamation drive against state institutions

To control ongoing defamation drive of Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI) of different constitutional institutions, the Federal Government led by Primeir Shehbaz Sharif has decided to introduce new defamation law

The enactment of such a law to penalize the elements carrying out such activities against institutions is also under consideration.

This legal development holds significant importance as an unending campaign of PTI leaders against the Pakistan Army, judiciary, Election Commission and other constitutional institutions is underway.

Sources told the scribe that a draft of the legislation is in circulation to amend the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) where up to five-year imprisonment will be awarded to whoever scandalizes or ridicules the Pakistan Army and judiciary through any medium including social media or others.

The officials of Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Law and Justice is preparing to giving final shape before submitting it to the Prime Minister for putting it up before the cabinet. The final approval of the draft will be gotten from Parliament after thumb up by Cabinet.

The legislation provides that “whoever makes, publishes, circulates any statement or disseminates information, through any medium, with an intention to ridicule or scandalize the judiciary, the armed forces or any of their member will be guilty of an offence punishable with simple imprisonment for a term, which may extend to five years or with a fine which may extend to Rs.1.0 million or with both.”

Similarly, in the Schedule II of the PPC, a new section titled 500A has been added to Section 500, which says that the offender will be arrested without a warrant and the offence will be non-bailable and non-compoundable, which can only be challenged in a sessions court.

The cabinet summary says that recently the country has witnessed a spate of scandalous, derogatory and vicious attacks on certain institutions of the state, including the judiciary and armed forces. 

It adds that “it is well-known that a deliberate cyber campaign has been launched for self-serving motives with the objective of inciting and nurturing hatred against important state institutions and their officials.”

It also states that such attacks are focused on undermining the integrity, stability and independence of the country’s state institutions.

The summary further mentions that judicial and army officials do not have the opportunity to step forward and negate scandalous, derogatory remarks while appearing in the media. 

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