Kathmandu, Nepal, June 1, 2019: Responding to the widespread wrath and criticism, the ruling head Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has given a hint to revise the controversial media laws. The party has initiated internal discussion to revise the media laws with the motive to restrain the party and the government from the controversies.
As the government and its head NCP has fall under enormous pressure not only from the party’s rank and files but also from the international media watchdogs for the harsh media laws that contradict the constitution as well, some leaders of the party has taken initiation to revise the media laws.
However, revision on the bill would not easy as some leaders of the party particularly the Minister for Communication and Information Technology Gokul Prasad Baskota have remained adamant to pass the media laws without any revision.
Though Minister Baskota was from the media background, he has vehemently been standing in favor of endorsing media laws in its current form. Notwithstanding the concerns of others, the government has tabled the harsh media bill at the National Assembly to Amend Media Council Act.
Withstanding to the widespread criticism, a section of leaders and party-aligned journalists has approached the senior leaders and cabinet ministers demanding immediate revise the media laws. The leaders, who have stand in favor of the revision in the media laws have a saying that further delay to revise the media laws would tarnish the image of the party and the government as well.
Minister Baskota is in center of criticism for drafting controversial media bills. Not only the leaders from the oppositions and ruling parties but also the national and international media watchdog and right agencies including the civil society leaders have criticized the media laws claiming that some provisions of the laws curtails the fundamental right guaranteed by the constitution.
The constitution of the country has ensured of full freedom of the press. The ruling head NCP and the government also used to parrot for the same. But the laws drafted by the government have proposed confiscating media equipment and hefty fine against media outlets and journalists going against the fundamental values and spirit of freedom of press.
As the draft Bill has proposed a fine of up to Rs 1 million for media outlets and journalists for publishing any content in violation to the media code of ethics, the government and its head NCP has fall under the criticism for heading towards the authoritarianism by curtailing the fundamental rights of right to information.
Likewise the Bill has also provisioned that any media outlets, publishers, editors and/or journalists can be fined up to Rs 1 million for publishing contents found to be tarnishing the dignity or reputation of any individual.
Similarly, the Bill has also proposed Rs 5 million to Rs 10 million in penalties or 10 to 15 years in jail or both for journalists publishing or broadcasting any content undermining national sovereignty, territorial integrity or nationality. Confiscation of media equipment if the media outlets and journalists are found publishing offensive contents is also provisioned in the bill.