Govt proposes changes in electoral, social media defamation laws

ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Saturday two important bills relating to the election commission’s code of conduct and social media have been sent to the federal cabinet for approval. In a tweet, the information minister said the first proposal seeks permission to allow parliamentarians to run election campaigns.

The second law, if enforced, will make social media defamation a punishable crime. “Insulting the dignity of another person on social media will be made a punishable offence and the courts will be bound to decide the cases within a period of six months,” he said.

On the other hand, sources have told Geo News that the federal cabinet has amended the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) code of conduct, paving the way for ministers and the parliamentarians to run election campaigns of their favourite candidates in the country.

All the political parties have reservations over the code of conduct introduced by the ECP,” sources said. The government has decided to amend the ECP’s code of conduct through a presidential ordinance.

On February 7, the ECP disqualified Umar Amin Gandapur, brother of Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs Ali Amin Gandapur, from contesting local body elections for violating the Code of Conduct announced by the commission for the local government elections in the province.

However, on the next day, the Islamabad High Court suspended the ECP’s order to disqualify Umar Amin Gandapur from contesting the polls. The ECP had also directed federal minister Ali Amin Gandapur not to attend any political gathering or corner meeting till the culmination of the polls.

Moreover, the ECP had also imposed a fine of Rs40,000 on a Member of the National Assembly belonging to JUI-F for violating the code of conduct for the elections as he addressed a press conference in favour of his party’s candidate for Dera Ismail Khan city council.

Criticism of institutions a felony
Meanwhile, the federal cabinet has also approved amendments to the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016 to criminalise criticism of institutions, sources said. The sources said the amendment would allow action against those who conduct hate campaigns against the judiciary, army and, other institutions, sources said.
Sources said the proposed amendment seeks to punish those who criticise the institutions for three to five years.

According to sources, an ordinance amending the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act would be issued soon.

TN Media News