Defamation Laws In Pakistan

In Pakistan, defamation constitutes a criminal act under Ordinance No. LVI of 2002 (“An Ordinance To Make Provisions in Respect of Defamation”), as amended. There are two kinds of defamation under Pakistani Law, namely: a) libel; and b) slander. The publication of defamatory matter is an actionable wrong without proof of special damage to the person defamed. Violation under said law shall constitute compensatory damages not less than 300,000 Rupees for the initiator.

The following are some of the defenses in an action for defamation:
a) That he is not the author, publisher, or printer of the statement complained of:
b) The matter commented on is fair and in the public interest, constitutes an expression of opinion and not an assertion of fact, and published in good faith;
c) The matter complained of is based on truth and was made for the public good;
d) The matter complained of was privileged communication such as between a lawyer and a client or between persons having fiduciary relations.

Under Paragraph 8 under Ordinance No. LVI of 2002, no action for defamation will lie unless the plaintiff, within two months after the publication of the defamatory matter, gives a 14-day written notice to the defendant from the date of knowledge of the publication. Likewise, an action for defamation will lie if said action is filed within six months from the time of knowledge of the publication of the defamatory matter.

Although Ordinance No. LVI of 2002 (as amended in 2004) is still considered a new law as there are still no decided cases filed by companies against the publishers and journalists, we can consider that the defamation laws is just the beginning for Pakistan.

However, what can be worth observing is that Pakistan takes “religious defamation” seriously. (Please see). Sections 295, 295A, 295B and 295C makes religious defamation (blasphemy) a crime, punishable ranging from two year imprisonment to death.