The letter opposing the Tehfuz-e-Banid-e-Islam bill of Punjab attracts over 300 signatures

A letter from more than 300 members of civil society expresses concern that the Tehfuz-e-Bayid-e-Islam Bill 2020 does not define “objectionable content” and that its vague words violate Article 25 of the Constitution Can. Geo.tv/Illustration

Karachi: An open letter expressing concern about the recently passed Tehfuz-e-Baniyad-e-Islam Bill 2020 by the Punjab Assembly has attracted more than 300 signatures as of the reporting time.

The letter, now open to the public, has so far attracted signatures of 314 individuals, including lawyers, activists, academics, academics, artists, journalists, doctors, architects, publishers, athletes, philanthropists, civil society organizations (CSOs), Historians are involved. Community organizer and activist, economist, and member of business community, as well as member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly.

On 23 July, the Punjab Assembly passed the Tehfuz-e-Baniyad-e-Islam Bill 2020, which the Directorate General of Public Relations (DGPR) visited and inspected any printing press, publishing house or bookstore and seized any book Was empowered to do. , Before or after printing.

The new law prohibits the printing and publication of objectionable material and prohibits the publisher, editor or translator from printing or publishing any book and material, including photographs or photographs of suicide bombers, terrorists, except the law. For the purposes of implementing agencies. investigation.

According to the new law, DGPR will have the power to refuse permission to import, print or publish a book “if it is prejudicial to national interest, culture, religious and communal harmony.”

“The implication of such vast arbitrary, immoral and unilateral power in a single bureaucrat is even in violation of the appropriate restrictions that can be imposed on the right to freedom of expression under the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 (‘Constitution’) Is, “the letter reads.

It underlines that DGPR’s task is to “promote government and handle government’s public relations”.

The letter stated that there is no rational or legal basis for the DGPR to be competent by the DGPR to take decisions on matters entrusted to it under this Bill.

Concern over the board of Mutahida Ulema

It expresses concerns about the Muttahida Ulema Board, which will receive the seized books under section 8 (4) of the Tehfuz-e-Banid-e-Islam bill, noting who is part of the board, There is no explanation about it. Or whether its members are able to “prejudice national interest and culture”.

It further states with concern that the Bill does not define “objectionable material” and its ambiguous wording may violate Article 25 of the Constitution.

“This bill needs to be thoroughly reviewed, as it amounts to excessive delegation of powers to the executive,” it reads. “Our constitutional framework is based on triangulation of powers. […] Such unbridled power to determine what amounts to objectionable material is essentially to entrust the power of the legislature to an executive officer ”.

Int’l Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Highlighting the powers of the DGPR in the case, it states that the wording is unclear and that “uncontrolled power is misused by executive officers when they act as prosecutors and judges to punish any violation under the law” . “

“Such a delegation of power amounts to vest judicial powers in the executive, in violation of the principles of the trichotomy of power and segregation of powers,” the letter states.

Most importantly, the respective members of civil society underline that “these are not legally restrictions on the right to freedom of expression under the Constitution”.

Any intervention in the right to freedom of expression is valid only if “it is provided by law, it pursues a legitimate purpose; and it is necessary for a democratic society”, contained in article 19 of the International Three – According to part test; The Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), of which Pakistan is a state party since 23 June 2010, they add.

Hindutva for the right to trade

Further, the persons concerned emphasize the fact that the powers of confiscation under the Bill are “in violation of Article 10-A of the Constitution” and that any person against whom the order can be considered should be given its view. Must be given a chance to present. In a hearing.

The letter also states that the “requirement of four gratuity copies placed on publishers and printers” is an impediment to the rights of businesses given Article 18.

“The bill is also in violation of Article 19A of the Constitution, which protects the right to access to information. Islam, national interest, culture and the concepts of pride of religious and communal harmony are not allowed to be misused and become a tool Can be granted. Eccentric, arbitrary, subjective, unstructured, dictatorial or inappropriate for censorship and control over publications, “it says.

No justification

“Strange that the democratic platform would behave in such a dictatorial manner, insulting the very constitution that enforced it,” he said. “We also fear that some of the provisions of the proposed bill may increase communal tension in the province, which will have an impact across the country.”

Underlining the right of citizens to the right to freedom of expression in a democratic society, it states that the Punjab Legislature has neither established the “requirement for this bill” nor “the social pressure necessary for this bill”. is required.

The end of this paper mentions that the Tahfuz-e-Baynad-e-Islam Bill 2020 could also have a detrimental effect on domestic industry, which “may suffer as such prohibitive legislation” that would affect citizens May encourage online catch up. Pirated editions of publications they want to read “, causing a negative impact on local publishers and distributors.

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