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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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IBA (Amendment) Bill Passed By Parliament

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After the Prime Minister’s closing speech, the bill has passed through the committee stage. The Opposition MPs, who made a walk-out earlier, returned to the hemicycle. Opposition Leader, Xavier-Luc Duval then called for a split vote and asked that the vote of each deputy be noted.

However, the Speaker has indicated that the rules provide that when the Speaker does not agree with a division of the vote, he may call for a vote. This is after the bell has been rung for the recall of Members. Those in favour of the Speaker’s motion had to stand and all members of the majority did so. Thus, there was no split vote and the IBA (Amendment) Bill was passed.

Pravind Jugnauth replies to the various critics

During the summing-up of debates, Pravind Jugnauth has denounced what he called “superficial arguments” on the part of the Opposition. He insisted that the penalty imposed ranges from one rupee to a maximum of Rs 500,000. He even justified this decision by pointing out that it is an administrative sanction.

He also indicated that there are several bodies that can give this kind of sanction, i.e, the Medical Council, the Pharmceutical Council and the Architect Council and insisted that a disproportionate sanction can be challenged before the Review Panel and even in court. “The legislation provides adequate safeguards,” he said.

Pravind Jugnauth also revealed that in 2007, there was an attempt by Navin Ramgoolam to amend the IBA Act and said that a Bill had even been prepared. “There was no provision for an appeal,” he said.

He also said that many very important licenses requiring huge investments are renewed every year and the same criteria used to appoint a Supreme Court judge will be used to select the chairman of the Independent Broadcasting Review Panel.

For him, the radio frequencies belong to the state and not those who obtain a license to operate a radio. “It is a kind of temporary authorization to use these frequencies,” he said. He insisted that the issuer of licenses can change the duration of validity of the permit in question and stressed that any decision is subject to review by the Supreme Court.

Pravind Jugnauth has also launched scathing attacks on two radio stations. He said that the three private radio stations have accumulated losses only during the first years. Since then, he said, they have been profitable. He said that the owner of one of them has a building in the center of town and another has grown to the point where it has a larger turnover than the other two radios combined.

Pravind Jugnauth also referred to press articles concerning Ashok Radhakissoon and Paul Bérenger in 2004 where they suggested a temporary ban on live broadcasts.

Pravind Jugnauth also indicated that nothing prevents the legislator, the Parliament, from coming up with laws while there are cases in court. He indicated that there is no censorship whereby the planned amendments will not affect Section 12 of the Constitution, which deals with freedom of expression. He also pointed out that there are more than 400 press cards issued.

For him, the sacrosanct concept of separation of powers have not been encroached.

Before Pravind Jugnauth, Kavi Doolub and Bobby Hurreeram have intervened on the Bill.

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