Punjab governor urges PML-N govt to review defamation bill

"Punjab government should review it again and remove the objectionable clauses," says Sardar Salim Khan

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Punjab governor urges PML-N govt to review defamation bill
Punjab Governor Sardar Saleem Haider Khan addresses an event. — Facebook/Sardar Saleem Haider Khan/File
  • Governor says there is a need to review defamation bill.
  • Advises Punjab govt to remove objectionable clauses from bill.
  • Says he will try to solve problem by sitting with all stakeholders.

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Punjab Governor Sardar Salim Khan on Thursday urged the provincial government to review the defamation bill recently passed by the legislature.

Speaking during Geo News programme Capital Talk, Governor Khan said that there is a need to review the defamation bill of the Punjab Assembly as this bill is not the final word.

He said that the Punjab government should review it again and remove the objectionable clauses.

The Punjab governor also said that due to the defamation bill, a storm has arisen in the country and to end it, if needed, he will try to solve the problem by sitting with all the stakeholders.

The Punjab Assembly, on Monday, passed the Punjab Defamation Bill 2024 amid a strong and noisy protest by the opposition after it was tabled by Punjab’s Finance and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mujtaba Mian Shuja-ur-Rehman despite media bodies' requests to defer the legislation.

The governor can refer the bill back to the assembly for reconsideration, and if the assembly sends it back to the Governor House again, it will assume the shape of the law within a stipulated period even if the governor does not give assent to the bill.

The PPP, which supported the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in forming its government in the Centre and in Punjab, has reacted strongly to the anti-defamation law that has irked several sections of the society with media organisations being the most prominent ones.

A report published in The News a day earlier stated that PPP’s parliamentary leader in Punjab Assembly Syed Ali Haider Gilani has complained about the party's legislators not being consulted on the issue and said that the party has rejected the bill as an act which curbs media freedom.

Reiterating that the Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari-led party will never be a part of media sanctions Gilani reassured that the PPP stands firm in support of the freedom of the media.

Media bodies to move LHC against bill

Even if the bill turns into law it is likely to go through litigation as the Punjab Joint Action Committee (JAC) has announced it would move the Lahore High Court (LHC) on the said issue.

In a statement issued on Monday, the JAC said that an emergency virtual meeting organised by the body had decided to further its struggle against the Defamation Bill 2024 by contacting the political parties, human rights organisations and other stakeholders.

The meeting was attended by the members of the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA), All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (AEMEND).

The attendees declared the controversial bill “passed in the dark of night without consultation with the stakeholders” as a draconian law, the Punjab JAC stated.