Nepali Congress Demands Withdrawal Of Anti Freedom Of Expression Provisions From Bill

Nepali Congress Demands Withdrawal Of Anti Freedom Of Expression Provisions From Bill

Jan. 3, 2020, 8:48 a.m.

Main Opposition Nepali Congress has demanded to correct provisions of the bill which curtail the citizens’ right to free of opinion and expression.

Issuing a statement, Nepali Congress demanded the correction of certain provisions on the bill which could curtail citizens’ right to freedom of opinion and expression under the pretext of regulating use of the internet.

The opposition party condemned the government’s step toward limiting freedom of expression, deeming it unconstitutional, while urging the concerned sides to speak in defense of people’s basic rights.

Experts argue that the bill will completely restrict the freedom of expression. The bill makes it mandatory for social networking sites to register with the Department of Information.

The bill proposes severe penalty for offence against state and computer hacking. It provisions a fine not exceeding Rs 1.5 million or a jail term not exceeding five years, or both, for posting content on social networking sites that may pose a threat to the country’s sovereignty, security, unity or harmony.

A fine of up to Rs 50,000 or six months jail term or both on those found guilty of cyberbullying. The original bill had proposed to punish people guilty of cyber bullying with a fine not exceeding Rs 1 million or jail term not exceeding five years or both.

For those responsible for deleting or interfering with information stored in somebody’s computer, the committee proposed to increase the jail term from one year to three years.

As the House’s Committee has passed the bill on majority, main opposition party Nepali Congress has asked that the government revise the much controversial IT Bill which according to many looks to restrict Freedom of Expression under the garb of regulating activities on cyberspace.

The Development and Technology Committee of the House of Representatives had passed the Information Technology Bill on December 29, ignoring the opposition of Nepali Congress lawmakers in the panel.

Minister for Communication and Information Technology Gokul Prasad Baskota Thursday came heavily down on social media users and some political party leaders for creating a rumor and confusion among the people regarding the provisions in the Information Technology Bill.

The Development and Technology Committee of the House of Representatives on December 29 had passed the bill.

Some noted political party leaders have been creating unnecessary confusion regarding the bill’s provisions by hiding the facts and truth mentioned in the bill, Minister Baskota said while speaking at a weekly press conference organised to make the cabinet decisions public.

“We are ready to undergo wide discussion on the facts in the Bill’s provisions, but we do request all quarters not to hide the truth just by making rhetoric and posting video messages in their respective social media,” Minister Baskota said.

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