Acting Punjab governor signs controversial defamation bill into law


Punjab Assembly Speaker and Acting Punjab Governor Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan signs documents during an assembly session in this undated image. — Facebook/Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan/File
  • Malik Ahmed Khan approves bill in Governor Sardar Salim’s absence.
  • Sardar Salim, who assured consultation on bill, is on leaves.
  • PA had passed controversial bill amid opposition on May 20.

LAHORE: The controversial Punjab Defamation Bill, 2024, has become law after acting Governor Punjab Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan signed it, Geo News reported citing sources on Saturday.

The bill that garnered immense criticism, particularly from journalists and digital rights activists, received the final nod from Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan, who currently holds the position of acting governor in the absence of Punjab Governor Sardar Salim Khan, as per the sources.

The sources added that Governor Sardar Salim has gone on leave.

The Punjab Assembly, on May 20, passed the Punjab Defamation Bill, 2024 amid a strong and noisy protest by the opposition as well as immense backlash from journalists and rights bodies including those based internationally.


Reacting to the development, Lahore Press Club President Arshad Ansari slammed the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) deceptive attitude, saying that the party deceived journalists.

“The bill was signed by the acting governor by sending the Punjab governor on leave under a plan,” said Ansari.

The senior journalist added that the PPP was apparently with the journalists and was conniving with the provincial government from within.

“A meeting of the action committee will be called soon and future strategy will be announced,” said the journalist.

Earlier, Governor Khan — a PPP stalwart — had promised that all stakeholders would be taken into consultation before signing this bill.

However, in his absence, Malik Muhammad Ahmad took over and signed the bill turning it into a law.

Speaking during the Geo News programme ‘Capital Talk’ last month, the Punjab governor had urged the provincial government to review the defamation bill passed by the legislature.

He maintained that there is a need to review the defamation bill of the Punjab Assembly, as it was not the final word and that the provincial government should review it again and remove the objectionable clauses.

PPP Punjab Parliamentary leader Syed Ali Haider Gilani has complained about the party’s legislators not being consulted on the issue and said that the party has rejected the bill as an act which curbs media freedom.

Reiterating that the Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari-led party will never be a part of media sanctions Gilani reassured that the PPP stands firm in support of the freedom of the media.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) had also expressed grave concern over the defamation bill.

“Subject to the provisions of this Act and any other law for the time being in force, defamation shall be a civil wrong and the person defamed may initiate an action under this Act without proof of actual damage or loss and, where defamation is proved, general damages shall be presumed to have been suffered by the person defamed,” read the bill.

The bill will also apply to fake news spread through YouTube and social media platforms. Under the law, tribunals will be set up to hear the defamation cases. The tribunals will be bound to decide the case within six months.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *