NC leaders flay govt for IT Bill

Kathmandu, January 9

Lawmakers of Nepali Congress and leaders of its student wing Nepal Student Union flayed the government at a programme held to protest the Information and Technology Bill, at Maitighar Mandala today. They said the government was heading towards authoritarianism by bringing draconian bills.

The Development and Technology Committee of the House of Representatives had on December 29, passed the Information Technology Bill, ignoring widespread criticism of the bill and the voice of NC lawmakers in the panel. The bill will be tabled at the next session of the House of Representatives, which will begin in next few days. The bill has a provision to impose fine up to one million rupees or ten years jail sentence, or both on those found guilty of ‘continuous cyber bullying’ charges like teasing, belittling, intimidating, insulting and scolding others through the use of electronic medium. The bill also proposes severe penalty for offense against the state and computer hacking.

Majority of the speakers in the protest program compared the act of the government of bringing the controversial IT Bill with the autocratic monarchical rule, which had also tried to impose restriction on the freedom of expression.

Lawmaker Gagan Thapa, addressing hundreds of agitators said Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has been behaving like a king. “KP Oli will have to face the wrath of people just as the deposed king did when the latter tried to curtail people’s right to freedom of expression,” Thapa said.

Thapa flayed the government saying that the bill was introduced to intimidate the public with harsh punishment just for expressing their thoughts. “The government is weak and coward. It is in constant fear that people will criticise its imperfect work. That’s why it has been trying to curtail people’s freedom of expression through draconian bills,” he said.

NC leader Nabindra Raj Joshi said the government was moving towards totalitarianism by depriving people of their right to freedom of expression.

Addressing the programme NSU leaders said they would force the government to withdraw the bill at any cost.

Advocate Babu Ram Aryal criticised various sections of the bill saying that the bill, if passed into law, would be counterproductive in many ways. Aryal said the provision to establish Information Technology Court in each province and appointing administrative officials as judges of the courts meant that the government will have immense power to jail anybody it wanted, as per the new law.

He said, “It is written in the bill that judges can send accused persons to jail if they feel that the latter would commit crime. How can a judge jail anyone on the basis of his/ her intuition?” he questioned.