Nepal | September 26, 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:

Sindhupalchowk, a crisis-hit region

DHULIKHEL, SEPTEMBER 24 Battered by a series of natural disasters in the past three months that caused huge loss to life and property, Sindhupalchowk has been declared a crisis-hit region. The government announced this today. Alongside Sindhupalchowk, Baglung is also declared a crisis-hit regi Read More...

One dead, six hurt as landslide sweeps bus in Daunne

KAWASOTI:  A person died while six others sustained injures after the passenger bus they were travelling on was swept by a landslide at Daunne in Nawalpur on Thursday night. The deceased has been identified as Harish Chandra KC of Aathbiskot Rural Municipality-10 in Rukum West, informed Deputy Read More...

NZ govt gives all clear for Pakistan, West Indies to tour

WELLINGTON: New Zealand's government has given the go ahead for the Pakistan and West Indies teams to tour the country later this year and in early 2021, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) said on Friday. New Zealand has been one of the world's most successful nations at containing the new coronavirus Read More...

Asia Today: India's daily new virus cases on declining trend

NEW DELHI: India reported another 86,052 coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, a declining trend with recoveries exceeding new cases this week. The latest update from the Health Ministry on Friday raised the nation's total to more than 5.8 million. The ministry said 1,141 more people died in th Read More...

Apple's smaller rivals unite to fight iPhone app store rules

WASHINGTON: Spotify and the makers of Fortnite and Tinder are taking on Apple and Google as part of a newly formed coalition calling for "fair treatment" in the way the tech giants run their app stores. The Coalition for App Fairness, a Washington-based nonprofit, launched Thursday and will advoc Read More...

Body of 12yo girl found in a temple in Bajhang; rape-murder suspected

BAJURA: The body of a 12-year-old girl was found in a temple in Masta Rural Municipality-2 of Bajhang district on Thursday night. The deceased was a resident of Khikala village. Police suspected that the girl may have been murdered after the culprit/s raped her as the clothes in the lower par Read More...

Abiding by COVID-19 curbs, Australian school kids protest in opposition to gas

SYDNEY: Thousands of Australian students on Friday protested to demand investment in renewable-energy projects, though COVID-19 restrictions confined the events to small gatherings and online activism. About 500 protests were held across Australia, with other demonstrations expected worldwide o Read More...

India Cricket, Cricket, Anil Kumble, India coach

Punjab spinner Bishnoi lauds Kumble influence

Kings XI Punjab spinner Ravi Bishnoi hailed the influence of head coach Anil Kumble after he and fellow wristspinner Murugan Ashwin picked up three wickets each to beat Royal Challengers Bangalore by 97 runs in the Indian Premier League on Thursday. The Challengers boast batsmen of the calibr Read More...