PAKISTAN: Govt withdraws Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill from Senate

ISLAMABAD – The PTI government on Friday withdrew the Prevention of Electronic Crimes (Amendment) Bill 2018 from the Senate a proposed law that recommended severe punishments for those who desecrate the Holy Quran, commit blasphemy or level false accusations of blasphemy through online.

The Bill recommends punishments for those members of minority community of Ahmadiyya who preach their religion or call themselves as Muslims or refer their faith as Islam through any online information system.

The Leader of the House in Senate Shibli Faraz through an application submitted with the Senate Secretariat requested for withdrawal of the proposed Bill making a plea that incumbent government has nothing to do with the Bill as it was the brainchild of previous government.

The Bill was tabled on the floor of Upper House of the Parliament on September 19, 2018 and had been referred to the Senate Standing Committee concerned for its approval.

The State Minister for Finance Hammad Azhar Khan tabled the Bill on the floor of the House on behalf of Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui.

 PTI Senator Faraz giving the reasons of the withdrawal said that the then Cabinet of former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had given approval of the proposed Bill on May 29, 2018 and the Bill needed fresh approval of the present Cabinet, as required under the law, before its passage.

 

He said that the Bill was referred to the Parliament without approval of the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Cabinet and thus “the government had nothing to do with it (the Bill).”

The draft of the Bill was presented before the previous Cabinet by the then Minister for Information Technology Ma Anusha Rehman whose purpose was to prevent online blasphemy and blasphemous content.

The Bill proposes four years jail terms and up to Rs 3 million fine for those who produce or offer for sale online pornographic material and three-year imprisonment and upto Rs 2 million fine for those who distribute or transmit pornographic materials online.

The Bill recommends life imprisonment for those accused of disrespecting or desecrating Holy Quran through an online system. It proposes that a person committing blasphemy or making false blasphemy accusation against someone through any information system shall be hanged to death.

Meanwhile, someone making derogatory remarks against family members of Last Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) or His companions or righteous Caliphs (Khulfa-e-Raashideen) will be sentenced to jail for three years or a fine will be imposed on him or he will face both punishments.

Furthermore, the proposed law recommends fine and upto three years jail sentence for those Ahmadis (Quadiani group or Lahori group) who declare themselves as Muslims or calls or refer to their faith as Islam or propagate as well as preach their faith through any information system.

The Bill proposes that any person of Ahmadiyya minority who “refers to the mode or form of call to prayers or recites Azan through any information system as used by Muslims” shall face up to three year terms and shall also be liable to fine.adiyya Persecution

 

According to the Bill, someone spreading offensive material against a religion to hurt the sentiments of people belonging to that religious class will be jailed for 10 years or a fine will be imposed on him or face both sentences.

The draft of the law states that “no authorised officer below the rank of basic scale 18 shall investigate an offence” mentioned in the Bill.

SOURCE:

https://nation.com.pk/13-Oct-2018/govt-withdraws-prevention-of-electronic-crimes-bill-from-senate

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