Defamation bill proposing fines, account blockade presented in PA

Tribunal shall decide case within 180 days from first appearance of defendant

Rana Yasif May 14, 2024


“The Punjab Defamation Bill 2024” was presented in the Punjab Assembly on Monday, proposing to slap fines and suspend or block the social media account of offenders found guilty of disseminating the defamatory content.

The bill was presented by Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman, and  Speaker Punjab Assembly Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan referred the bill to the concerned committee.

The Punjab Defamation Bill, 2024 envisages legal protection from false, misleading and defamatory claims made via print, electronic and social media against public officials and private citizens.

“Where defamation is proved to have occurred, the tribunal may pass an order directing the defendant to tender an unconditional apology, if acceptable to the claimant, and direct the same to be published in the same manner and with the same prominence as the defamatory statement was made, and pay the damages in terms of this Act,” read the proposed bill.

It further stated where defamation is proved to have occurred, the tribunal may, in addition to the damages that are decreed and/or direction for tendering an apology, also issue a direction to the relevant regulatory authority to suspend or block the social media account of the defendant, or any other medium or platform covered by the Act through which the defamatory content was disseminated.

It was proposed in the bill that the government may establish as many tribunals as it considers necessary to exercise jurisdiction and appoint a member for each of such tribunals, and where it establishes more than one tribunals, it shall specify the territorial limits for such tribunals to use their jurisdiction.

A member shall be appointed by the government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court, and no person shall be appointed as a member unless he has been a judge of the Lahore High Court; or is or has been a district judge or is an advocate of Supreme Court of Pakistan, qualified to be appointed as a judge of the Lahore High Court, stated the bill.

The tribunal shall decide the case within one hundred and eighty days from the date of the first appearance of the defendant.

The tribunal may grant pre-trial settlement opportunity to the parties by referring the matter for mediation to an accredited Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) Centre in the district, if so consented to by both parties.

The tribunal may award actual costs, including counsels’ actual fee, legal fees and expenses incurred, expenses relating to witnesses and other costs of litigation, on the basis of sufficient and justifiable reasons.

In case of actionable defamation pertaining gender sensitive or minority community related defamation, the request for in camera proceedings may be made, which will be decided by the tribunal on the basis of merits of each case.


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