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Punjab Assembly Passes Bill Allowing Govt To Heavily Censor, Ban Books

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A new bill passed by the Punjab Assembly gives the provincial government sweeping powers to censor information by barring any publisher, editor, or translator, from printing or publishing any text that is deemed ‘un-Islamic’ or ‘objectionable’ by the government.

The bill titled Punjab Tahaffuz-e-Bunyad-e-Islam Bill 2020 was passed by the house on Wednesday and has been termed ‘historic’ by Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervaiz Elahi.

According to the bill, the Directorate General of Public Relations (DGPR) is empowered to visit and inspect the premises of the printing presses, offices of the publication houses and book stores. The DGPR also has the authority to refuse permission to import, print, or publish a book ‘if it is prejudicial to the national interest, culture, religious and sectarian harmony’.

The proposed law also stops the ‘the publisher, editor, or translator from printing or publishing any book and material that consists of photographs or pictures of suicide bombers, terrorists, except as required by law enforcing agencies for purposes of investigation’.

The bill also makes it mandatory for the book importers to provide a list of books imported by him/her to an authorised officer within fifteen days of the import. It also bounds publishers to send memoranda of books published by the company every three months.

“The publisher on the same day of the printing of a book shall provide four copies of every edition of a book,” it added.

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Naya Daur