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Rs 1 mn fine on Nepal journos for 'damaging reputation', says govt's new bill in Parliament

Press Trust of India  |  Kathmandu 

The government has come under severe criticism from and the after it registered in Parliament a bill which, according to experts, seeks to impose a fine of up to Rs 1 million on journalists if they were found guilty of "damaging someone's reputation".

Media Society (NMS), an umbrella body of publishers and broadcasters, demanded the bill's immediate withdrawal.

The government led by K P on May 9 registered the Media Council Bill in Parliament for constituting the Media Council (NMC), which has provisions to impose a fine up to Rs 1 million on media outlets, editors, publishers and journalists if they were found "guilty of damaging someone's reputation".

The Section 18, Sub-section (2) of the bill stipulates that the NMC can order the erring parties to pay compensation if the content in damages the reputation of the affected party, according to experts.

Section 17 proposes punishment for violating the code of conduct which includes suspending press pass of and downgrading the classification of media outlets, they said.

NMS Subhashankar Kandel asked Oli to revise the bill by holding consultations with the stakeholders including the Federation of Nepalese Journalists.

"Some of the provisions of the Bill were meant for demoralising the entire and independent press, and were against complete press freedom guaranteed by the Constitution," he said.

party Monday said that the government was planning to stage a coup d'tat against press freedom and journalism through the bill.

He said that the NC would not accept at any cost moves towards curtailing press freedom.

"Freedom is our ideology. We will launch protests in Parliament and on the street against any move aimed at curtailing press freedom," Deuba said during an interaction with the media at the in Lalitpur.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) launched a five-day protest programme against the bill.

The programme began on Sunday with interaction among editors of national dailies and online portals, and rights advocates.

The FNJ on Monday met and handed over a petition requesting amendment to the controversial bill.

Its representatives will soon meet Oli and request him to make necessary changes in the bill to ensure press freedom, the FNJ said.

The (SVP) said the government is trying to cover up its weaknesses through the new bill.

As the Communist government's popularity dipped in its one-and-a-half-year tenure, new laws are being formulated to cover its failures, the SVP said, adding that it goes against total press freedom and individual liberty guaranteed in the Constitution.

and former has termed the government's move to curtail press freedom unnatural.

She asked the government to keep in mind the crucial role played by the Nepalese media during the pro-democracy movement before taking any such decision.

"If the bill is passed, the journalists will not be able to write against corruption, anomalies and malpractices. We will not accept it if it is passed without any change," said Ramesh Bista, of the FNJ.

The government should not intervene in the functioning of the media, editor said, adding that the should abide by its own code of conduct.

The bill contains around a dozen provisions which aims to prevent the media from working freely. This is an attempt made by the government to keep the media under its grip, said former of

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

First Published: Mon, May 13 2019. 20:36 IST