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20 November, 2017 00:00 00 AM
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Section 57 of ICT Act

Law with bail provision soon

MUHAMMAD YEASIN
Law with bail 
provision soon

Keeping the provision for bail, the government is going to formulate the Digital Security Act with the aim to remove all controversies  and ambiguities involving Section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology Act. An inter-ministerial committee at a meeting with law minister Anisul Huq in the chair yesterday finalised the name of ‘Digital Security Act’ with the provision for bail in case of any offence under this act.  The inter-ministerial body at its meeting held at the law ministry also formed a committee, headed by senior secretary of the legislative wing of the law ministry Md Shohidul Haque, to scrutinise whether the Broadcast Act-2016 is contradictory to any provision of the Digital Security Act, meeting sources said.

The committee has been asked to submit the report before the inter-ministerial committee by Nov 27, and the inter-ministerial committee is likely to make its final decision on the Digital Security Act on a Nov 29 meeting, sources said. In yesterday’s meeting, the committee members widely discussed the proposed act and they reached a consensus that all confusions and ambiguities of Section 57 of the ICT Act – widely said to be a hurdle to the freedom of expression-- would be over once the Digital Security Act is formulated, the sources said.

The committee also agreed that the offence and punishment under the act would be defined clearly so that no one can abuse the act and make people its victims.

A law ministry senior official said the inter-ministerial committee, formed to scrutinise the draft Digital Security Act, proposed to clearly define offences and punishments by incorporating as many sections as required in the draft act to simplify the Section 57 of the ICT Act and ensure freedom of expression.

After formulating the Digital Security Act, some provisions, including Section 57 of the ICT Act, would be repealed, added the official. According to Section 57, if a person deliberately publishes any material in the electronic form that causes deterioration of law and order, prejudices the image of the state or a person, or hurts religious sentiments, the offender could be punished with a maximum of 14 years and a minimum of seven years of imprisonment.

It will also be considered as a non-bailable offence.  Following repeated demands from human rights activists, national and international journalist organisations and legal experts, the government has taken the decision to simplify Section 57 of the ICT Act through the incorporation of a section in the Digital Security Act.

The inter-ministerial committee also proposed to split the section 57 based on the types of offences and determine the punishment accordingly. The cabinet approved the draft Digital Security Act in August last year, and the prime minister then directed the law ministry to scrutinise the draft to avoid any repetition, contradictory provisions or inadequacies. The act is currently awaiting the law ministry vetting. Some 300 cases were lodged under the section in the first seven months of this year. Over two dozens of journalists were sued and several were arrested.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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