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Opposition party in Nepal warns of strong protest over Media Council Bill

Press Trust of India  |  Kathmandu 

The main opposition party in warned of a strong protest if the went ahead with the discussion in Parliament on the controversial Bill that aims to curtail press freedom by imposing strict penalty on

on Friday proposed the new aimed at imposing a hefty fine of up to Rs 1 million on found guilty of damaging anyone's reputation, raising alarm among journalists who say the government seeks to punish the press in the name of regulation.

The new bill aims to replace the existing Press Council Act and will have more authority to issue hefty fines and give the government more say in the hiring and firing of the council members.

A meeting of the parliamentary party chaired by the and former on Wednesday decided that they would protest on streets if the government forwarded the discussion in the Parliament.

Similarly, the party also demanded that the government put on hold discussions on Bill and National Defence Council Bill as they are also objectionable.

All three bills are against the spirit of the Nepalese Constitution. The government should withdraw them, told media after the meeting.

If the bills are forwarded forcefully, the party will go to the street against them, he said.

Meanwhile, the has said that the proposed is against democratic norms and the freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution.

Press freedom, human rights and the rule of law are integral part of democracy and an attack on them adversely affects the democratic system the country has established after a long struggle, the human rights watchdog said in a statement.

Earlier, the council could ask for clarification, apology, blacklist certain press organisations, direct to the court for compensation, but now the bill aims to give the council authority to issue monetary punishment ranging from Rs 25,000 and up to one million.

The provisions in the proposed bill will also give the council greater power to write to the concerned authority to take action against if they violate press ethics as defined by the government.

It also proposes punishment for violating the code of conduct which includes suspension of press pass of and downgrading of the classification of

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, May 16 2019. 11:45 IST