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Amended ordinance to combat fake news: Farogh Naseem

On Sunday, Federal Law Minister Barrister Farogh Naseem said that the modified Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca) will assist combat fake news, claiming that no one would be free from engaging in the nuisance under the ordinance.

In an interview with the media in Karachi, Naseem stated that when the revisions to the legislation went into effect, distributing fake news would be viewed as a cognisable offence. “It will also be a non-bailable offence punishable by up to six months in jail.”

The minister’s remarks come a day after the federal cabinet approved a presidential edict amending the Peca, 2016. Fawad Chaudhry, Minister of Information, stated that the ordinance’s approval was sought through circulation.

In his press conference today, Naseem noted that the rule was intended primarily for a public person or a public office holder, but that a complaint regarding disinformation or fake news stories may be submitted by the general public.

The minister cited a few recent incidents in which dignitaries were targeted with misleading information. He expressed remorse that vulgar language was used against former Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed a few weeks back.

Barrister Naseem also mentioned a news article about a purported disagreement between Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi, saying that “this law would put a stop to such news claims.”

According to the law minister, a court would be required to rule on instances involving false news within six months. If the judge fails to adjudicate within the time frame specified, a letter would be issued to the relevant high court chief justice requesting an explanation from the judge, he added.

When asked whether the PTI was adopting the new rule to prevent opponents from attacking the part as the government’s tenure came to a close, Naseem said he did not believe the government’s days were numbered.

“Obviously, if we are in opposition, this bill will be unfavourable to us.” “As a result, the notion that the government will soon return home is incorrect,” he continued.

In answer to a query, Naseem stated that the revisions to the PECA legislation, or Article 19 of the Constitution, were not illegal because the sole aim of the law was to combat false news. The legislation makes defamation of civil and military organisations, as well as public officials, a crime.

Election legislation has been modified.

The government revised the Election Act 2017 in another ordinance issued by PM’s assistant Babar Awan to enable legislators to participate in election campaigns.

This bill would allow MPs and others to attend and address public meetings during election campaigns, which was previously prohibited under the election code of conduct.

The federal cabinet had adopted both regulations the day before, despite concerns that the government was attempting to limit free expression through such legislation.

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