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Geospatial Bill: Pakistan or any other party has no locus standi over map issue, says MEA

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 17 May 2016, 19:00 IST

After Pakistan's foreign affairs ministry sent a letter to the United Nations Secretary-General and the President of the UN Security Council expressing "serious concern" for Pakistan over India's Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, Vikas Swarup, spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs, has replied that "Pakistan or any other party has no locus standi in the matter".

As per an official release, Pakistan's foreign affairs ministry said that they have sent letters to the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the President of the UN Security Council expressing "serious concerns" over Indian government's efforts to introduce the Geospatial Bill in the Indian Parliament. "In violation of UNSC resolutions, the official map of India has been depicting the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir as part of India which is factually incorrect and legally untenable. 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 said, reported The Economic Times.

"Uphold the UNSC resolutions and urge India to stop such acts which are in violation of international law," the Pakistani ministry asked the United Nations.

"We have urged the international community and the United Nations to fulfill their commitment with the people of Jammu and Kashmir by holding an independent and impartial plebiscite under UN auspices," it added.

"There is no violation of law that happens either through India depicting through official government sources a particular map, or by India telling others to depict such maps within India," said Pranesh Prakash, policy director at Centre of Internet and Society.

However, in 2010, under the observation of the Council, Jammu and Kashmir was removed from the UNSC list of unresolved disputes.

"Those resolutions don't say anything about maps either. There is no requirement in international law that certain kinds of maps or boundaries be depicted anywhere and the Pakistani claim is utterly without basis," The Economic Times quoted Prakash as saying.

Earlier in May, the Indian government had released a draft Geospatial Information Regulation Bill that said anyone mapping India by a satellite or aerial platform will need a license from a government "security vetting authority".

Violation of the guidelines would mean a jail term for seven years along with a fine of up to Rs 100 crore.

According to The Economic Times, the bill is currently seeking public comments until 4 June.

Also, last week, a volunteer-led initiative called SaveTheMap, had also drafted a template response users can send to the Ministry.

The response provides a list of the things that people will not be able to do if the Bill is passed, including being unable to geotag photos, social media posts, record daily running, cycling, walking or driving activity with smartphone apps, share location with friends and others via smartphone apps like WhatsApp, food delivery apps, transport apps etc.

First published: 17 May 2016, 19:00 IST