KATHMANDU, Jan 13: President of Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) Govinda Acharya on Monday said that the FNJ will be forced to knock the door of Supreme Court if some of the 'controversial provisions' of the proposed Information and Technology (IT) Bill are not revised.
Addressing an interaction program on 'IT Bill and Protection of Press and Freedom of Expression' in the capital, president Acharya accused the incumbent government of forming a puppet court in order to tighten its grip on the citizen's right to freedom of expression enshrined in the constitution.
Journalists and stakeholders have been consistently demanding withdrawal of the IT bill, which was registered at the National Assembly last month.
"Although some points have been included after its latest amendment to the bill in a parliamentary committee, we have serious objection over its provision to slap journalists found violating ‘media code of ethics’ up to a fine of Rs 1 million and another provision that talks about forming a state-controlled media watchdog by scrapping the existing one," Acharya argued.
On the occasion, he also informed that FNJ and Nepal Bar Association have agreed to launch a joint campaign against the bill in near future. "We are soon visiting all seven provinces, urging the parliament not to endorse the bill without making revisions," added he. He said that the FNJ will be forced to take to the street if its demands are not met.
Coordinator of Press Organization Nepal, a media organization close to the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Maheshwar Dahal maintained that the issue should be settled through negotiation between the ruling and opposition parties. "Former Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala-led government had also attempted to take control of the media fraternity. The Oli-led administration is now following the suit," accused Dahal.
President of Nepal Press Union Badri Sigdel said that it has become like a trend in Nepali politics that the political parties start controlling the media once they reach at the helm of the government.
"The tabled media bill not only breaches press freedom but also violates the constitutionally granted citizens' fundamental rights," grumbled Sigdel.
The speakers urged the government not to endorse the bill without making necessary amendments.