Bill seeks five-year imprisonment for ridiculing army, judiciary in Pakistan

Islamabad: The Pakistan government on Tuesday formed a committee to review a bill that aims to amend the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) where up to five-year imprisonment will be awarded to whoever ridicules the army or the judiciary through any medium, local media reported.

In a handout, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said that a cabinet committee has been formed to carefully review the Criminal Laws Amendment Bill, 2023 forwarded by the Interior Ministry, Dawn reported.

It added that the body would submit its report at the next meeting of the federal cabinet.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, Economic Affairs Minister Sardar Ayaz Sadiq as well as representatives from the coalition parties have been included in the committee, the PMO handout said.

A threadbare discussion was held on the bill during Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, wherein a majority of the members opposed the amendment, Dawn reported.

A source from the PMO said PPP leaders Sherry Rehman, Naveed Qamar and Hina Rabbani Khar were among those who strongly opposed the proposed bill.

From the PML-N, only Khawaja Saad Rafique — who is also the Railways Minister — opposed the proposed bill outright.

After listening to the concerns of the cabinet, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif recommended that a committee be formed to review the proposed bill. He also said that members from allied parties should also be included in a bid to resolve their concerns, a source said, Dawn reported.

Titled Criminal Laws (Amendment) Act, 2023, the bill suggests a new Section 500A after Section 500 in the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). The new section is titled ‘Intentional ridiculing or scandalising of the state institutions etc’.

It says 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 members will be guilty of an offence punishable with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend up to five years or with a fine which may extend to Rs 1 million or both, Dawn reported.


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