The staff was asked to send back the bill but he refused the order, President of the State
President Arif Alvi denied signing the Official Secrets Amendment Bill and the Pakistan Army Amendment Bill and said that I disagree with these laws.
President Arif Alvi has denied signing the Official Secrets Act and the Army Amendment Bill and has said that he has not signed the Official Secrets Amendment Bill and the Pakistan Army Amendment Bill.
“I disagree with these laws,” the president said, “and I asked my staff to send back the bill, and to return the unsigned bills within the time limit to make them ineffective.” could be made, but the staff acted against my wishes and orders, I apologize to those who will be affected.
The President’s signature on the Official Secrets Act
It was reported yesterday that the President of the country, Dr. Arif Alvi, signed the Official Secrets and Army Act Amendment Bills, after which both laws have come into effect in their amended state.
The outgoing National Assembly approved the Official Secrets Act before leaving, including 9 bills passed by the National Assembly.
While presenting the bill in the National Assembly, it was stated that the amendment of the Official Secrets Act, 1923 is essential, this bill makes the process more effective in the context of changing social scenario to ensure protection and security of official documents.
Opposition members of the government also expressed their indignation at the presentation of the Official Secrets Act amendment bill in the Senate. Senator Raza Rabbani, who belongs to the PPP, even tore the copies of the bill.
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On this bill, the Chairman Senate entrusted the bill to the Standing Committee on the protest of Jamaat-e-Islami, PTI, MQM Pakistan, National Party and others.
After that, some controversial provisions were removed from the Official Secrets Amendment Bill and the Army Act and re-introduced where after approval by the Senate, the summary was sent to the President for his signature.
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What is the Official Secrets Act (Amendment) Bill?
The bill proposes three years imprisonment and a fine of one million rupees for revealing the identity of sensitive institutions, informers and sources.
Section 6A (Unauthorized disclosure of identity) states that it shall be an offense to disclose the identity of officials, informers or sources of intelligence agencies against the law and order, security, interest and defense of Pakistan.
Who will be considered the enemy of the country?
Section 8A defines “enemy” as ‘any person who, directly or indirectly, knowingly or unknowingly, an external force, agent, non-state actor, institution, association or group whose objective is Pakistan. To harm the interest and security of, works with him’.
According to Section 9, those who abet, conspire or assist in the commission of the crime shall be treated as accomplices in the crime and shall be punished accordingly.
The disputed clause
However, one of the provisions of the Official Secrets Act Amendment Bill was considered more controversial by observers.
The search warrant clause states that intelligence agencies “may at any time, without warrant, search any person or place upon suspicion of an offense or offence.”
Powers of the FIA
The amendment bill also said that an officer of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) grade 17 or above would be nominated by the DGFIA for the investigation.
The DJFIA will have the power to set up a JIT comprising officials from the FIA and sensitive agencies for violations of the Official Secrets Act, but the FIA will have to complete the investigation within 30 days.
Seizure of evidence and equipment
The intelligence agencies (IB and ISI) will be empowered to seize any documents, maps, models, articles, notes, weapons or electronic devices and arrest the accused on the basis of suspicion.
Electronic devices, data, information, documents or other materials obtained during the course of an investigation and facilitating the commission of a crime may be submitted as evidence.
Access to sensitive areas
Section 3 is being renamed from “punishment for espionage” to “offences”.
With minor amendments to the existing offences, it has also added drone camera photography of restricted areas to the list of offences.
The Official Secrets Act states that it would be a crime to advance, enter or plan an attack on restricted areas, and would prohibit the use of “manned vehicles” or drones to inspect restricted areas.
Under this, unauthorized access to any activity, document, invention or weapon etc. related to the capability of the forces would be illegal.
The amendment also includes areas temporarily under the control of the armed forces for combat testing, training, research, troop movements or in-camera meetings.
Official Secrets Act (Amendment) Bill 2023 Currently the offense is limited to such movements during wartime, but the proposed bill would extend it to peacetime.