India rubbishes Pak concern over Geospatial Bill, says JK integral part of India

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India has told Pakistan that the proposed Geospatial Bill was ‘internal legislative matter of India, since the whole of the state of J&K is an integral part of India’, after the neighbouring country wrote to UN raising “serious concerns” over the Geospatial Bill. Pakistan claims that the bill is in violation of the international law since it “has been depicting the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir as part of India which is factually incorrect and legally tenable.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Pakistan Foreign Office released a copy of its letter to the UN raising “serious concerns” over the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill. The letter has been issued to Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the President of the Security Council. The Pakistan Ministry has asked the “United Nations to uphold the UNSC resolutions and urge India to drop such acts”.

External Affairs (MEA) spokesman Vikas Swarup said that “Pakistan or any other party has no locus standi in the matter.” Experts believe that Pakistan’s claims have no standing since the J&K issue had been removed from UNSC’s list of unresolved disputes. “The 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,” the statement further added.

Speaking to the press on the matter, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said, “It’s our domestic matter. It is just a rough draft, at an initial stage.” Rijiju had been quoted earlier saying that the government is open to reviewing the bill. “Indian citizens & stakeholders will give suggestions, then the Bill will be introduced in Parliament. There was no need for Pakistan to respond on this,” he added, commenting on Pakistan’s letter.

The draft of Geospatial bill was made public earlier this month, and makes it mandatory for mapping companies to procure a license from a government security vetting authority before publishing India’s map. The bill also criminalises wrongful depiction of India’s map which includes a jail term of up to seven years and a fine of up to Rs 100 crore. Draft of the Bill released by the Ministry of Home Affairs quotes the one of the clause stating, “Whoever depicts, disseminates, publishes or distributes any wrong or false topographic information of India including international boundaries in contravention of section 6, shall be punished with a fine ranging from Rupees ten lac to Rupees one hundred crore and/or imprisonment for a period up to seven years.”

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