Calling a public place with different name will constitute offense


ISLAMABAD AUG 1: The federal 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 other than its notified name, even unintentionally.

An official of the ministry of Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) said: “The proposed bill seems dictatorial as it proposes imprisonment or a fine for using a name for a place other than its notified name. So if someone calls the Benazir Bhutto International Airport the Islamabad airport, he may be sentenced to 30 days in prison or a fine which may extend to Rs500, 000 if the law is passed.”

The law and justice ministry a few days ago sought comments from the CADD ministry, National History and Heritage Division and interior ministry on the proposed Public Places (Names) Act 2017. According to CADD officials, 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.

There is presently no legal mechanism for the naming or renaming of public places under the control of the federal government or bodies or authorities established or controlled by the federal government, says the proposed bill.  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.

It also carries a controversial clause which says: “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 which may extend to thirty days or fine which may extend to five hundred [thousand] rupees”. The bill goes on to say that an offence under this section shall be cognizable on the complaint of a deputy commissioner or any other public servant specifically authorized by the naming committee.

It aims to preserve our national identity and heritage whilst respecting its residents, diverse races, ethnicities, faith and beliefs, abilities, gender, talents and aspirations, and gender identities, age, occupation, income and lifestyle. It 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.

The naming committee will send names to the federal government for final approval and then the names will be published in the official gazette of Pakistan. The CDA’s planning wing currently deals with the subject of naming the capital’s roads after prominent personalities. After approval from its board, the CDA sends the summary of names to the Cabinet for final approval. The civic agency has so far named over 100 roads after prominent personalities.

CDA Member Planning, Asad Mehboob Kayani, when asked said that through the law ministry, the CADD ministry had sought comments from the CDA over the proposed bill. “We will send our comments to the ministry in the next few days,” he said.

Sheikh Anser Aziz, the Islamabad Mayor said the CDA has been following the criteria for naming roads after prominent personalities. “However, if the government wants to make any legislation, the CDA will support it,” he said.