Asia/Kathmandu

Questionable Bills: Following protests, Nepal government shows signs of retreat

One of the Bills looks for to exchange the existing Press Council with a mass media council led by a government-appointed chief, who would have sweeping powers to enforce fines up to Rs 1 million on editors, reporters or publishers if they are found guilty of defamation.

The Nepal govt showed signs of some capability on two controversial Bills — one that has angered the media as well as free speech advocates, along with the other that has attracted the ire of religious and traditional organizations — following a number of protests in the capital for the past one week.

Among the Bills seeks to replace the existing Press Council with a media council led by a government-appointed chief, who would have to capture powers to impose fines up to Rs 1 million on editors, reporters or publishers if they are found guilty of defamation.

In the absence of Prime Minister K P Oil, that is away in Europe, Deputy Prime Minister Ishwar Pokharel, as well as other top officials, held a meeting with over two dozen editors to hear their views on the matter. The majority of the editors spoke against the Bill. After this, Pokharel declared the government was committed to press independence and indicated that the Bill, which is under consideration of Parliament, may be altered

The additional controversial Bill, known as the ‘Guthi Bill’, seeks to amend the law governing religious and personal trusts in order to bring their property and management under a government-controlled authority.

The Bill has provoked peoples of around 80 Guthis, or social organizations, to keep daily protests in Kathmandu for the past week.

Janakral Joshi, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Land Management, declared the government was willing to listen to stakeholders. Land Reforms Minister Padma Aryal also kept a meeting with an action

Committee of the trusts Wednesday night.

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