Parliament yesterday gave two more months for further scrutiny of the Digital Security Bill-2018.
Imran Ahmed, ruling Awami League lawmaker from Sylhet-4 and also the chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Post, Telecom and ICT, submitted the time request before the Jatiya Sangsad which was passed by a voice vote.
While placing his proposal, Imran told parliament that the standing committee already held two meetings so far to scrutinise the bill. “But as the bill is very important, the committee needs more time for further scrutiny.”
According to business schedule of yesterday's sitting, Imran was supposed to seek one month for further scrutiny.
But while seeking time, he told the speaker that the committee needed two months instead of one month mentioned in the day's business schedule. Later, the House passed the proposal.
The much-debated Digital Security Bill was placed in parliament on April 9 amid growing concerns from journalists and rights activists that freedom of the press and expression would be put to the sword if the bill was passed.
The parliamentary watchdog had been given four weeks to submit its report before the House following scrutiny of the bill.
In the face of growing demand, the parliamentary standing committee invited Editors' Council, Association of Television Channel Owners (ATCO) and a faction of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) to a meeting on May 22 to hear their views on the bill.
At the meeting, the Editors' Council, an organisation of editors of the country's national dailies; the ATCO and the BFUJ faction voiced concern over section 8, 21, 25, 28, 29, 31, 32, and 43 of the proposed law, saying these would greatly hamper the freedom of speech and independent journalism.
They also unanimously said several sections in the proposed law had ambiguity and loopholes which should be addressed. Otherwise, there would be ample scope for its misuse.
After that meeting, Law Minister Anisul Huq said they agreed to sit again with representatives of the Editors' Council, ATCO and BFUJ, once the parliamentary committee concerned revised the bill in light of discussions at the meeting of the committee.
He also said he would recommend that the standing committee bring necessary amendments to the proposed law.