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Punjab defamation law officially gazetted

Despite facing criticism, the Punjab government has proceeded to implement a new defamation law by officially publishing the Punjab Defamation Act 2024 through a gazette notification.

The bill was signed into law by Acting Governor Malik Ahmad Khan a few days prior to its enforcement.

Under the provisions of this new legislation in Pakistan’s largest province, individuals can be awarded damages of up to Rs3 million even before a trial commences. Furthermore, the tribunal has the authority to issue an interim order for damages amounting to Rs3 million without the need for a trial, upon receipt of a defamation petition.

To ensure the effective implementation of this Act, the government reserves the right to establish multiple tribunals as deemed necessary, with the scope of their jurisdiction to be determined by law.

The Defamation Tribunal is mandated to adjudicate on complaints within a period of six months, while a special tribunal has been designated to prosecute those found guilty of “creating and spreading fake news” within the same timeframe, as stipulated by the law.

These defamation tribunals are granted extensive powers under the Defamation Act 2024, and it has been reported that no court has the authority to issue an injunction to halt the proceedings of these tribunals.

Individuals are afforded a window of 60 days from the date of the alleged defamation incident to lodge a complaint with the tribunal, as per the provisions of the law.

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