The Geospatial Information Regulation Bill 2016, proposed by Indian government few days back received criticism from neighbouring country Pakistan. Pakistan objected the placing of the bill in the first place and reached United Nations to intervene. In its two separate letters to the President of UN Security Council and the United Nations Secretary General, Pakistan raised serious concern over the bill which it terms as ‘controversial’. Indian government, however, responded to the dialogue ‘firmly’ and said any other country does not have any right to object to an ‘internal legislative matter’ of India.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office in Islamabad issued official statement mentioning that it has sent letters to UN Security Council by its permanent representative in New York as India is violating UN resolutions by bringing such law. The letter said, “Through the passage of this Bill, the Indian government would penalize the individuals and organizations who depict Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed territory as per the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.” It claimed that depicting the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir as part of India is factually incorrect and legally untenable.
Pakistan, through the letter, asked the United Nations to uphold its resolutions and also urge India to stop such acts which violates the international law. It also urged the global body to fulfill their commitment to the people of Jammu and Kashmir by holding an independent and impartial referendum under the aegis of the UN.
Pakistan’s statements were rejected by the Indian government, with the spokesperson of Indian External Affairs Minister – Vikas Swarup saying that the Indian government firmly rejects Pakistan’s repeated and increasing attempts to impose on the international community matters that India has always been open to address bilaterally with Pakistan.
Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister of State for Home, resisted strongly against the Pakistan’s attempt for gaining international support and said Indian government would take suggestion of its citizens for the bill and not any others’. He said, “We don’t take cognizance of Pakistan’s objection. We will take suggestions of citizens and various stakeholders before finalisation. But it is the duty of the government (to ensure) that India’s map is depicted properly.”
Indian government already lays tight restrictions on maps, but if the proposed bill is brought, the defaulters would be imposed with specific penalties. The Geospatial Information Regulation Bill 2016 mentions imprisonment for a period of up to seven years and/or hefty fine ranging from Rs 1 crore to Rs 100 crore for wrongly depicting the map of India. The bill forbids wrong depiction, dissemination, publication and acquisition of India’s geospatial information.