LAHORE: The Punjab Assembly on Wednesday passed the Punjab Tahaffuz Bunyad-e-Islam (protecting the foundation of Islam) Bill of 2020 making publishing of objectionable and/or hate-material punishable.

The bill, which needs the governor’s seal to become a law, was introduced after complaints of using inappropriate or insulting words for Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (SAW), his family and companions.

The new law makes desecration of any prophet, any of the four divine books, family and companions of Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (SAW), as well as abetting or glorification of terrorists, promotes sectarianism in any book punishable with a maximum of five-year jail terms and up to Rs500,000 fine.

It demands the use of words Khatam-un-Nabiyyeen whenever the name of Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (SAW) is mentioned.

It also binds all publishers to submit at least five copies of each edition of the book they publish with the DGPR, which has been empowered to inspect printing presses, book stores and publishing houses, and confiscate before and after printing of books containing such contents.

The DGPR may also investigate, assess or ascertain any act of omission involved in the matter, check record and books of accounts of the publisher on the spot or at any designated office.

Speaker Chaudhry Parvaiz Elahi said the committee that helped in drafting the law should also help in implementing the same.

He said section 3-F of the law should be read with Article 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code.

He said the federation and other federating units should follow the Punjab Assembly so that the same law is implemented all over Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2020

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