From Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, has prepared a bill proposing five-year jail term for those ridiculing its army and the judiciary.
The draft bill, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP), was vetted by the Pakistan Ministry of Law and Justice.
“Pakistan’s government has prepared a bill that proposes to change Pakistan’s Penal Code (PPC) and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). According to the bill, anyone who ridicules the Pakistani army and the judiciary will be awarded up to five-year imprisonment,” the Asian News International reported, citing Dawn News, a Pakistani English-language newspaper.
Mint, an Indian financial daily newspaper, reported that: “The draft bill was vetted by the Pakistan Ministry of Law and Justice. It was initiated by the Ministry of Interior for the Prime Minister and the federal cabinet. A cabinet summary outlines the goal of the soon-to-be proposed bill as lately social media has been rife with criticism of the army and courts.
“Sources informed the news agency ANI that the bill will be forwarded to the federal cabinet soon. Titled Criminal Laws (Amendment) Act, 2023, the bill recommends a new section 500A. The new section is titled ‘Intentional ridiculing or scandalizing of the state institutions etc.’
“According to the new bill, anyone who makes publishes or circulates information through any medium with the intention to ridicule or scandalize the judiciary, the armed forces, or any of their member will be guilty of an offense punishable with simple imprisonment for a term that may extend to five years or with a fine which may extend to Pakistani Rupees (PKR) 1 million or with both, Dawn reported.”
The newspaper further reported that a new section 500A has been added to Section 500 which states that the offender will be arrested without a warrant and the offense will be non-bailable and non-compoundable.
“The offender can challenge the arrest in a sessions court.
“The cabinet summary states that Pakistan has recently witnessed a number of scandalous, derogatory, and vicious attacks on certain state institutions, including the judiciary and armed forces, as per the Dawn report.
“It also mentions that such attacks focus on undermining the integrity, stability, and independence of Pakistan’s state institutions, according to Dawn. The judicial and army officials do not have the opportunity to come forward and negate derogatory and scandalous remarks while appearing in the media,” Mint further wrote.