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Punjab Assembly witnesses protests against controversial Defamation Bill 2024

The Opposition leaders and the journalists equally condemned the provincial government’s move to introduce such a bill which they see as threat to freedom of press



Punjab Assembly witnesses protests against controversial Defamation Bill 2024
GNN Media: Representational Photo

Lahore:  The Punjab Assembly session, presided over by Speaker Malik Muhammad Ahmed Khan, turned into a battleground on Monday as the government introduced a contentious Defamation Bill 2024.

 The opposition parties and journalists launched fierce protests against the bill within the assembly premises.

Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman presented the contentious bill during the session, triggering strong opposition from within the Punjab Assembly. Opposition leader Malik Ahmad Khan Bachar led the uproar on the house floor, with members vehemently opposing the bill and displaying placards against it. They labeled the bill as a "black law" and adamantly demanded its withdrawal.

Opposition leader Ahmad Khan Bachar argued that the Defamation Bill 2024 was draconian, asserting their refusal to be associated with it. In contrast, Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman opposed sending the bill back to the committee, citing extensive prior debate on the matter.

Journalists also joined the protest by boycotting the assembly session and staging loud demonstrations on the assembly's stairs. Arshad Ansari, President of the Lahore Press Club, condemned the government's crackdown on the media, calling recent events undemocratic. He recalled how the PML-N vehemently opposed the PECA Ordinance during its tenure and stressed that journalists would not tolerate any law limiting press freedom.

Ansari questioned the whereabouts of the 300 billion worth of wheat imports and challenged the government's response. He warned that protests would extend beyond Lahore, encompassing the entire nation. He reiterated their determination to block entry into assemblies and raised slogans against the Black Law.