Farogh Naseem hints at ‘good news’ about media authority bill

Published September 9, 2021
In this file photo, Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem addresses a press conference. — DawnNewsTV/File
In this file photo, Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem addresses a press conference. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: Law Minister Dr Farogh Naseem dropped hints of “good news” on Wednesday regarding the draft of the Pakistan Media Deve­lopment Authority (PMDA) bill.

But the minister stopped short of explaining what he meant by good news, saying since the matter falls within the domain of Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, the latter would speak about the changes proposed in the bill.

The observation came against the backdrop of opposition to the proposed bill by the media, civil society as well as political parties.

Senator Faisal Javed, who heads the Senate Standing Committee on Information, and other members of the panel had said on Tuesday they would reject the bill in the upper house if they were not satisfied about its usefulness.

Javed Latif, who chairs the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information, is opposed to the bill as well, indicating recently he would vote against it in a meeting of the committee, due soon.

Shehbaz Sharif, the PML-N chief, had stated last week that his party would form a joint committee of the opposition to stop the PTI-led government from introducing a ‘black law’ for setting up a regulatory authority for the media.

The committee will be tasked with analysing the legal and other facets of the bill and propose a strategy.

Speaking to the media after an oath-taking ceremony of newly elected members of the Press Association of Supreme Court (PAS) at the law ministry on Wednesday, Dr Farogh Naseem said he was committed to a free media and had done his best to uphold freedom of expression.

The law minister made the observations after Amjad Nazir Bhatti, the PAS president, conveyed to him journalists’ apprehensions that the bill would muzzle dissent.

Dr Farogh Naseem called upon journalists to guard against “black sheep in your ranks” and discourage fake news since it was a disservice to the country.

He recalled a famous quote from novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton, “Pen is mightier than the sword”, and said he himself worked as a freelance journalist in England before joining the legal profession.

In reply to a question about legal reforms, Dr Naseem said the law ministry had proposed 800 to 900 amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), the Law of Evidence (Qanoon-i-Shahdat), the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and a number of other laws.

The amendments will soon be placed before the cabinet for its approval and then tabled in parliament, he added.

One of the amendments proposed in the CrPC calls for the acceptance of audio and video evidence in courts. Another amendment makes the trial court judge answerable to the supervisory higher court if a trial is not completed within nine months.

The government intends to make laws for the empowerment of women and to introduce a journalist protection bill in parliament, Dr Farogh Naseem said.

The minister said a forensic laboratory would be established in the federal capital soon.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

Militancy redux
Updated 12 Aug, 2022

Militancy redux

There is fear and confusion all around, and it is for the state to bring clarity to the situation.
Distorting history
12 Aug, 2022

Distorting history

WHEN history is co-opted by ideologically overzealous elements, expect the facts to die a quick death, and...
Dengue danger
12 Aug, 2022

Dengue danger

WITH rains continuing across most of the country, a dengue outbreak can quickly become a major headache for health...
Khorasani’s killing
11 Aug, 2022

Khorasani’s killing

OMAR Khalid Khorasani, a dreaded TTP ‘commander’, lived by the sword and very much died by the sword. But beyond...
Gross overreaction
Updated 11 Aug, 2022

Gross overreaction

The government has already done considerable damage to itself with its indelicate handling of the situation.
Dadu deaths
11 Aug, 2022

Dadu deaths

DISEASES that are usually mild and preventable in countries with developed healthcare systems often prove to be...