Punjab’s defamation law challenged in LHC

LAHORE: The recently passed defamation law by the Punjab Assembly has been challenged in the Lahore High Court.

Journalists Jafar Ahmed Yar and Raja Riaz, represented by Advocate Nadeem Sarwar, filed the application. The petition names the Chief Minister and Governor of Punjab as respondents, through the Principal Secretary of the Punjab Government.

The petitioners argue that the new defamation law contravenes the constitution and existing legislation. They contend that the creation of a new law is redundant given the presence of the defamation ordinance and the defamation act.

Furthermore, the journalists claim they were not consulted during the drafting of the law, which they believe is intended to control the media. The petition urges the court to nullify the defamation law and to halt its implementation until a final decision is made.

On the other hand, the Governor’s House has confirmed that Acting Governor Punjab Malik Ahmed Khan has signed the Defamation Bill. Once officially notified, the law will come into effect across Punjab, applicable to all citizens.

The law, passed by the Punjab Assembly, encompasses print, electronic, and social media. It allows for defamation cases against false and untrue news, including content spread through YouTube, TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, and Instagram. The legislation targets news that harms a person’s private life or public standing.

Under the new law, there is a provision for compensation of up to 3 million rupees. Cases involving allegations against individuals in constitutional positions will be heard by a High Court bench. Additionally, women and transgender individuals will be provided with government legal assistance.

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