KATHMANDU, June 9: In a rare occurrence in parliamentary practice, lawmakers have registered amendment proposals to a disputed advertisement-related bill without getting updated on the already revised provisions of the bill.
A group of lawmakers has demanded a reduction in fines from Rs 500,000 to Rs 200,000 against media organizations publishing or broadcasting advertisements with false information or banned content even as the National Assembly has already reduced such fines to Rs 100,000 for these offenses. The upper house had endorsed the bill after revising its various provisions last month.
At least 14 lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties have registered five separate amendments seeking revisions to 65 various provisions in the Advertisement Bill. The bill was tabled in the lower house after endorsement by the upper house. But most of the lawmakers have been registering amendments to the original bill instead of the bill revised and endorsed by the National Assembly. Various provisions they have sought to remove or amend are not included in the latest version of the bill.
“We have demanded lower punishment against media organizations for advertisement-related offenses. But we didn't know that this had already been affected by the upper house,” Bahadur Singh Lama of main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) told Republica. “We didn't check the revised bill forwarded by the upper house.”
Lama along with Sujata Pariyar, Gyan Kumari Chantyal, Pramila Rai, Hira Hurung, Mahendra Kumari Limbu, Man Bahadur Biswakarma and Laxmi Pariyar have registered the joint amendment.
The government registers most of the bills at the House of Representatives and these are later forwarded to the upper house for endorsement. But the Advertisement Bill was first registered at the National Assembly and then forwarded to the lower house for approval.
Other amendment proposals, made by ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmakers Binda Pandey and Bina Kumari Shrestha, NC lawmaker Dibyamani Rajbhandari and Nepal Workers Peasants Party's Prem Suwal, are also based on the original bill instead of the revised version. Only a joint amendment proposal from Rastriya Janata Party Nepal lawmakers Laxman Lal Karna and Iqbal Miya is in line with the revised bill.
NC lawmakers against jail term for advertisements
Eight NC lawmakers registering an amendment to the Advertisement Bill have demanded the removal of jail sentences for publishing advertisements. The bill revised by the National Assembly has proposed up to one-year jail sentence and up to Rs 100,000 fine or both for publishers if media is found to be publishing an 'offensive' advertisement.
Earlier, the original bill registered by the government had proposed up to five years jail and Rs 500,000 fine or both for publishing certain kinds of advertisements banned by the law. The revised bill has proposed banning publication and broadcast of advertisements that encourage the buying of lotteries (without permission from the government) or that include vulgar content, the course materials of schools and universities or unreal things and other issues.
Though the original bill had proposed barring the publication of advertisements on a greater number of issues, the upper house has relaxed the legislation following protests from the media fraternity.