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Governor signs PA Privilege Amendment Bill into law

July 02, 2021

LAHORE: Punjab Governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar Thursday signed the Punjab Privileges (Amendment) Bill 2021 into a law.

However, while talking to The News, he promised that all reservations expressed by the media persons regarding the bill would be addressed. He also promised that all stakeholders would be taken on board over the bill.

The Punjab Assembly Tuesday passed the bill, under which the media persons or officials could face a punishment, fine in case they misbehaved on the assembly premises. An interesting fact related to the bill is that it was referred to the privilege committee by the speaker, who had sought report from the committee within two months, but the bill was moved in the House within eight days and was passed without any debate.

PPP's Makhdum Usman Mehmood was the mover of the bill.

The journalistic organisations including Punjab Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Lahore Press Club (LPC), and Punjab Assembly Press Gallery (PAPG) have rejected the bill, terming it a gross outrage against the media freedom.

The media workers, under the banner of PFUJ, LPC and Punjab Assembly Press Gallery, would stage demonstrations in Lahore against the legislation.

Usman Mehmood, the PPP MPA from Rahim Yar Khan, and mover of the bill, told The News it was unfortunate that a lot had been stated regarding the legislation without going through it. He said the bill passed by the PA was the replica of the Senate Privilege Bill 2014.

He told The News that the previous Privilege Law of PA was not in accordance with the 1973 Constitution and also said that the current legislation did not bar anyone from expressing his opinion regarding an individual. He said, in fact, if had focused on the privilege of the House committees and the House, which is an institution.

Makhdum Usman said the Punjab Privilege Amendment Bill 2021 was in accordance with Article 66 of the Constitution of Pakistan and the previous Act was predated to 1972.

He also said that the media was held in great esteem and at the same time, also urged the media fraternity to understand the actual spirit of the bill.

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