The Pakistan government has decided to introduce a law for naming public places after prominent personalities, proposing strict punishment for calling a place with a different name, even unintentionally.

The proposed bill seems dictatorial as it proposes imprisonment or a fine for using a name for a place other than its notified name.

According to a Dawn report, if someone, for example, calls the Benazir Bhutto International Airport the Islamabad airport, they he may be sentenced to 30 days of imprisonment or a fine which may extend to Rs 500,000 if the law is passed.

The law and justice ministry had recently sought comments from the ministry of Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD), National History and Heritage Division and interior ministry on the proposed Public Places (Names) Act 2017.

The ministry also referred a copy of the bill and the law ministry’s letter to the Capital Development Authority (CDA) which names roads after prominent personalities, for comments.

The Dawn report suggests that presently there’s no legal mechanism for the naming or renaming of public places under the control of the federal government.

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The objective of the bill is to protect the name of public places and to lay down the procedure for naming and renaming federal public places.

The bill also has a controversial clause, and that is if any person intentionally or negligently uses a name of public place other than the name notified under section 12, he shall be liable to imprisonment or fine. An offence under this section shall be cognisable on the complaint of a deputy commissioner or any other public servant specifically authorised by the naming committee.

The bill also proposes the formation of a naming committee consisting of the minister for national heritage, the CADD minister, the mayor of Islamabad, five persons nominated by the federal government, secretaries to federal government and national history and literary heritage division.

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