Rajasthan government’s Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2017, which has been tabled in the state assembly, is in the eye of the storm. The bill seeks to replace the September 7 ordinance, which had drawn widespread criticism from several quarters.
Last month, the Rajasthan government had promulgated the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance, 2017. It seeks to protect serving and former judges, magistrates and public servants in the state from being investigated for on-duty action, without its prior sanction. The controversial bill also bars the media from reporting on such accusations till the sanction to proceed with the probe is given by the government.
Editors Guild’s reaction
The Editors Guild of India has asked the Rajasthan government to “withdraw the harmful ordinance” that bars the media from reporting on accusations against public servants, judges and magistrates without its sanction.
In a statement on Sunday, the Guild said the ordinance is a “pernicious instrument” to harass the media. “The ordinance promulgated by the state government last month was ostensibly done to protect the judiciary and the bureaucracy against false FIRs. But in reality it is a pernicious instrument to harass the media, hide wrongful acts by government servants and drastically curb the freedom of the press guaranteed by the Constitution of India,” it said.
The Guild said that instead of taking stern measures to prevent and punish those who indulge in frivolous or false litigations, the Rajasthan government has passed an ordinance that is bent on “bludgeoning the messenger”, the Guild said.
What Rajasthan government says about the controversial bill
The state government said there is no provision in the bill to dilute the state government’s “zero tolerance” towards terror. The bill doesn’t talk about giving protection to corrupt public officials.
“The amendment doesn’t mean that no case can be registered against public servants in police stations. For Within 180 days, an accepting official would have to ensure whether the case is tenable or not. If the allegations are found to be true, then the case would be allowed and action would be taken as per law.”