ISLAMABAD: The government of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) is considering new measures to curb the defamation of state institutions, including the judiciary and military, amid the criticism of the political role of these organisations.
A draft legislation, authored by the Ministry of Interior and fine-tuned by the Ministry of Law and Justice, is circulating to amend the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) with provisions for up to five-year imprisonment for anyone who scandalises or ridicules the army and judiciary through any medium.
The bill, titled Criminal Laws (Amendment) Act 2023, includes a new section 500A in PPC, titled “Intentional Ridiculing or Scandalising of State Institutions, etc”.
The legislation provides that “whoever makes, publishes, circulates any statement or disseminates information, through any medium, with an intention to ridicule or scandalise 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 Rs1 million or with both.”
The offense is non-bailable and non-compoundable and can only be challenged in a sessions court.
The government is concerned about what it insists is a deliberate campaign aimed at inciting hatred against key state institutions and officials, with the objective of undermining their integrity, stability, and independence.
The summary says that officials from the judiciary and military do not have the opportunity to refute derogatory and scandalous comments in the media.
Constitutional experts argue that existing laws already prohibit such acts and there is no need for new legislation.