Journalists move Lahore HC against Punjab Defamation Act


Journalists and rights bodies, including those based internationally have expressed their opposition to the law…reports Asian Lite News

The senior journalists on Wednesday approached the Lahore High Court (LHC) against the Punjab Defamation Act, 2024, after the provincial assembly passed the law amid the strong protest from the opposition members and media fraternity in May this year, Pakistan-based Geo News reported.

The petitioners requested the court to declare the Punjab Defamation Act, 2024, “void ab initio” and of no legal effect. The decision of journalists comes after the Punjab Assembly on May 20 passed the Punjab Defamation Bill, 2024 amid a strong and noisy protest by the opposition on the floor of the assembly.

Meanwhile, journalists and rights bodies, including those based internationally have expressed their opposition to the law, according to Geo News report. Two senior journalists through their lawyer Asad Jamal have filed a petition in the court. Justice Muhammad Amjad Rafiq will hear the petition today.

The petition filed by journalists reads, “The controversial Punjab Act is repugnant to the Defamation Ordinance 2002 which has been provided protection under Article 270AA under the 18th Amendment to the constitution.”

“The Punjab province does not have the legislative competence to enact a law to regulate any aspect of broadcasting through various electronic and digital media including those based on technologies like telegraphs and telephones as well as wireless media and broadcasting and similar other modes of communication,” it further said, according to Geo News report.

The petitioners have challenged the Act passed by the Punjab Assembly mainly on the ground that the core subject matter of the Punjab Defamation Act 2024 is communication or speech through electronic and digital media is beyond the legislative competence of provinces as it falls foul of Article 70 of the Constitution read with item 7 of the Federal Legislative List.

In their petition, the journalists stated that the Act stood in violation of fundamental rights guaranteed in Articles 10A, 18, 19, 19A and 25 of the Constitution, Geo News reported.

The petitioners further said that the Defamation Act aims to stifle free speech and dissent as it has already had a chilling impact on the freedom of speech of journalists due to the punitive and harsh nature of the provisions of the law implemented in the name of preserving privacy and protecting members of society from the unjustified harm caused to the reputation of people. (ANI)

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