Nepal | July 12, 2020

Media council bill draws flak from MPs

Jagdishor Panday
Share Now:

Kathmandu, May 13

Lawmakers representing the main opposition Nepali Congress today criticised the government for registering the Nepal Media Council Bill, saying the bill’s provisions were aimed at curtailing press freedom.

NC lawmakers, speaking during the pre-budget discussion in both the houses — the House of Representatives and the National Assembly — said the government was trying to control media through laws that violated the constitution.

In the National Assembly, Nepali Congress lawmaker Badri Pandey said the government was trying to control media as was the case during absolute monarchy. “The government is trying to control not only media, but also the National Human Right Commission by relegating it to a department of the Office of Attorney General,” he said.

NC lawmaker in the House of Representatives Minendra Rijal, who is also a former minister of communications and information technology,   said the media council bill was meant to curtail press freedom.

Another NC lawmaker Devendra Raj Kandel told the lower House that the government was trying to tame mediapersons and human rights activists.

Meanwhile, a team led by Chairperson of the Federation of Nepali Journalists Govinda Acharya today submitted copies of a memorandum to Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara and National Assembly Chairperson Ganesh Prasad Timilsina highlighting restrictive provisions of the National Media Council Bill that the government registered in the upper House a few days ago.

Journalists’ umbrella body stated in its memorandum that the provisions of Media Council Bill were aimed at curtailing press freedom.

The FNJ, the largest umbrella body of journalists in Nepal, requested the speaker and the NA chairperson to use their clout to withdraw the bill from the Parliament.

The FNJ team met Mahara at his official residence in Baluwatar in the morning and Timilsina at his office in Singha Durbar in the afternoon. The memorandum stated that the bill proposed harsh punishment against media professionals and the press. The FNJ also stated that the bill’s provisions were in contravention of the constitution which guarantees full press freedom. The journalists’ umbrella body stated that the government should withdraw the bill and re-register it after modifying its provisions.

During his meeting with Mahara, Acharya said the government didn’t consult any stakeholders before registering the bill in the upper House.

Mahara told the FNJ that once the bill was tabled in the lower House, he would tell the concerned panel to consult stakeholders regarding the bill’s provisions. He also told the FNJ team to talk to the minister of communications and information technology about the bill’s provisions rather than protesting against the bill.

Timilsina, on the other hand, told the FNJ team that since the bill followed due process, it would be difficult for the NA to return the bill.  “But I assure you that when relevant panel will discuss the bill, it will consult all the stakeholders, including the FNJ,” he said. He added that the FNJ could express its dissatisfaction then and the House would amend the provisions that were against the media and press freedom.



A version of this article appears in print on May 14, 0219 of The Himalayan Times.

Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Tarai districts at risk of floods after heavy rainfall in hilly region

RAUTAHAT: Tarai districts are at a high risk of floods as water level has risen alarmingly after incessant rainfall in hilly and Chure region in recent days. Locals residing on the banks of Bagmati and Lalbakiya rivers in Rautahat and Sarlahi districts have been living in terror of floods as Read More...

Putting the brakes on COVID-19: Safeguarding the health and rights of women and girls

KATHMANDU: The COVID-19 pandemic has sickened 16,649 people and left 35 dead in Nepal as of July 10. But the full toll of this catastrophe has been incalculably greater. The health system has been overwhelmed and the economy has been greatly impacted. Women and girls have been disproportionately af Read More...

NHRC chief draws flak for condemning Mohna Ansari

KATHMANDU, JULY 10 National Human Rights Commission Chairman Anup Raj Sharma has drawn flak for issuing a press release condemning NHRC member Mohna Ansari for criticising Samajwadi Party-Nepal’s decision to expel Sarita Giri from both the party and the House of Representatives. Sharma h Read More...

Commission on the investigation of Enforced Disappeared Persons

Conflict victims lament govt’s apathy in their joint submission

KATHMANDU, JULY 10 Various victim groups of Nepal have made a joint submission to the 37th Session of the Working Group on Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council, drawing its attention to the Government of Nepal’s persistent failure to deliver truth, justice, repar Read More...

Gaindakot, Nawalparasi

East-West Highway obstructed as flood sweeps diversion in Nawalpur

KATHMANDU: The East-West Highway has been obstructed since a diversion was washed away by a flash flood at Gaindakot section in Nawalparasi (East) district. It has been learnt that the vehicular movement along the highway came to halt after the flooded rivulet in Thumsi swept away the culvert o Read More...

Nepal Communist Party (NCP) standing committee meet put off for a week

KATHMANDU, JULY 10 The ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) has postponed its Standing Committee meeting for a week. NCP Spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha wrote on his Twitter handle that the party took the decision to postpone its Standing Committee meeting to enable the party’s rank and fil Read More...

‘Regulate particular content, media, not entire industry’

KATHMANDU, JULY 10 Freedom Forum, a civil society organisation, issued a press release condemning cable operators’ decision to halt broadcast of Indian news channels, except Doordarshan, over misleading and defamatory content about Nepal. Freedom Forum said service providers and media carrie Read More...

Jada and Will Smith reveal marriage trouble on Facebook show

LOS ANGELES: With their marriage under social-media scrutiny, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith reaffirmed their commitment to each other as Pinkett Smith admitted to having a relationship with musician August Alsina when she and Smith were separated. In a one-on-one conversation Friday on Pinke Read More...