In the wake of the furore over the banning of Zunar's cartoons, a lot is being said about the PPPA and its sledgehammer provisions. What is missing is a call to account by the act's enforcers, the shadowy Publications and Quranic Texts Division (PQTD) of the Home Ministry.
The present debate focuses on the act's effects on publishers, ie, newspapers and books. The insidiousness of the PQTD, however, runs far deeper. Their powers of seizure, which they brandish with alacrity, are all-pervasive and apparently unlimited, thanks to the act's exclusion clauses which effectively shield them from any kind of accountability.
They have seized my T-shirts on three separate occasions for reasons best known to themselves.
Although legal opinion is unanimous that there is nothing illegal about the images they seized, they steadfastly refuse to explain their actions. Just because a thing is legal does not exempt it from being seized for ‘study’ or ‘research’.
In other words, the PQTD can empty a shop of perfectly legal stock if they feel like it while the overseeing minister looks the other way. I have lost thousands and no one has taken the trouble to tell me why.
So if you are a manufacturer, retailer, artist, advertiser, consumer or just plain citizen, beware the PQTD.