The discussion around the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016 have turned into a diplomatic war of words, when India “firmly” rejected Pakistan’s objections to the draft Bill, saying Islamabad does not have any right to object to an internal “legislative matter” of India.

India’s view:

The proposed bill is an entirely internal legislative matter of India, since the whole of the State of J&K is an integral part of India. Pakistan or any other party has no locus standi .

Objective of Geospatial Information Bill:

The draft Geospatial Information Bill plans to bring in a set of legally binding regulations regarding the geospatial information of India which may include provisions to penalise inaccurate depiction of India in maps.

Pakistan’s view:

Earlier Pakistan wrote to the UN Secretary General raising “serious concerns” over the draft Bill, specifically criticising the depiction of Jammu and Kashmir in the bill as incorrect and legally untenable and urged India to stop such acts which are in violation of international law.

Reason for such a Bill:

1.    Recently, some social networking sites wrongly depicted the geographical location of Jammu as being in Pakistan and of Kashmir in China, which was corrected after protests from the Government of India.

2.    The draft Bill also makes it mandatory to take permission from a government authority before acquiring, disseminating, publishing or distributing any geospatial information of India.

3.    The draft Bill will make it mandatory for online platforms like Google to seek a licence to run Google Maps or Google Earth in India. 

What is Geospatial information?

Geospatial information means spatial imagery or data acquired through space or aerial platforms such as satellite, aircraft, airships, balloons, unmanned aerial vehicles including value addition or graphical or digital data depicting natural or man-made physical features, phenomenon or boundaries of the earth or any related information including surveys, charts, maps, terrestrial photos referenced to coordinate system and attributes.