Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry has said that the contempt of court laws in Pakistan should be repealed as it is an “absolutely ridiculous idea to criminalise criticism”.

The minister was responding to a tweet by a senior journalist wherein the latter had raised questions on a proposed bill that seeks jail term for anyone defaming the Pakistan Army.

“Absolutely ridiculous idea to criminalise criticism, respect is earned, cannot be imposed on people, I strongly feel instead of new such laws Contempt of Court laws should be repealed,” the minister wrote in response to the new bill.

It may be noted here that the federal minister is also facing a contempt case in the Supreme Court filed by Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s wife Sarena Isa. She had pleaded with the court to initiate proceedings against Fawad for disrespecting a sitting judge.

Fawad further said that he “seriously doubts if the armed forces [had] demanded such law”. “Army in Pakistan is loved and respected by every Pakistani with a soul,” the minister wrote on the microblogging site.

On Wednesday, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Interior had approved a proposed law that sought two years jail term and Rs5 lakh fine for anyone found guilty of “defaming or ridiculing” the Pakistan Army or its personnel.

In September last year, the bill was tabled in the National Assembly as a private member’s bill. It had proposed changes to the Pakistan Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code.

According to the draft, anyone who “intentionally ridicules, brings into disrepute or defames the armed forces of Pakistan or a member thereof” will be liable to “imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with a fine up to Rs500,000 or both”.

“The purpose of this amendment is to prevent hatred and disrespectful behaviour against the Armed Forces,” said the bill, presented by Amjad Ali Khan, chairman of parliament’s standing committee on defence.


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