The Punjab Assembly on Monday approved the highly controversial Defamation Bill 2024 amidst immense opposition from journalists, human rights organisations and political opponents.

The government considers the bill, aimed at stopping ‘fake news’, necessary while journalist leaders and opposition leaders labelled it “draconian” and a “black law”.

Earlier in the day, representatives of media bodies met Punjab Information Minister Azma Bokhari and requested her to defer the controversial bill for a few days.

RELATED STORIES

However, the government decided to bulldoze the bill through Punjab Assembly despite strong opposition.

Journalist leaders were of the view that the government stabbed them in the back after holding negotiations over the bill.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has also expressed grave concern over the defamation bill, saying that it aims to uphold “parallel judicial structures” for defamation cases which goes against the very spirit of the Constitution.

HRCP remarked that implementation of this bill would be a huge blow to freedom of speech and dissent in our society because there would be no due process or fair trials.

“This is not a democratic bill. There is no compromise on press freedom,” stated Lahore Press Club President Arshad Ansari.

He slammed the PML-N-led provincial government for passing the controversial bill and remarked, “You have cheated us. You have trapped us.”