Punjab govt proposes new bill to restrict rallies, protests in high-security zones

The government of Punjab on Tuesday proposed a new bill, ‘Punjab High-Security Zones (Establishment) Bill 2020’, for restricting public rallies, sit-ins, protests and demonstrations in the provincial capital’s high-security zones.

The bill proposes maximum imprisonment of five years and a fine of Rs100,000 for conducting such activities, whether for political or other purposes, in the areas specified in the bill.

The step was taken after a writ petition was filed by senior advocate Azhar Siddique in the Lahore High Court (LHC). Justice Jawad Hassan heard the petition.

The petitioner contended that all political activities had been banned on The Mall, but protesters still protested in the area. He added that the action is sheer violation of the court’s orders and pleaded that there is a need to bring specific legislation on the issue to avoid such activities.

Earlier, the government had presented a bill before the court, however, several objections were raised by the petitioner’s counsel Azhar Siddique. A committee was then formed to make the draft more viable. Government representatives submitted a new draft of the bill today and said it would be presented in the Punjab Assembly for approval.

The Punjab High Security Zones (Establishment) Bill 2020

Those who will hold, attempt to hold or abet in holding of, or participate in public rallies, sit-in, protests, jalsas, political gatherings including all activities relating to demonstrations for political or any other purpose, in non-designated area, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year nor more than two years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to Rs.5,00000.

Those who will hold, attempt to hold or abet in holding of, or participate in public rallies, sit-in, protests, jalsas, political gatherings including all activities relating to demonstrations for political or any other purpose, in designated area without permission of Deputy Commissioner concerned, shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to Rs.1,00,000 or with both.

Cognizance and non-bailable

The offence under this Bill shall be cognizable and non-bailable and a magistrate of the first class will conduct the trial.

Permission

On an application of a person, seven days prior to proposed holding of public rallies, sit-in, protests, jalsas, political gatherings including all activities relating to demonstrations for political or any other purpose except designated area, the deputy commissioner concerned, on the recommendations of dead of district police and subject to payment of fee and execution of agreement as prescribed, may grant permission.

Designated Area

“Designated Area” means an area designated for the holding of public rallies, sit-in, protests, jalsas, political gatherings including all activities relating to demonstrations for political or any other purpose.

High Security Zone

“High Security Zone” means an area which is banned for any demonstration or assembly of any kind posing threat to the security of a sensitive installation.

Non-designated area

“Non designated area” means any area other than “high security zones and designated area”.

Sensitive installations/places

Places of worship or of religious importance; public roads, streets or thoroughfares; offices of the federal government, local governments, non-governmental organization or any foreign project; hospitals, private clinics, banks, money changers, financial institutions, offices of foreign or local firms or companies, industrial units, educational institutions, public parks; wedding halls, petrol or CNG stations, jewelry shops, hotels, amusement or entertainment centers, public transport terminals, special bazaars, commercial streets, shops or shopping arcades; or any other area, deemed sensitive from security perspective.

 

 

(This story has been published from The Express Tribune feed, without modifications to the text)