BJP led Rajasthan Government has brought in an ordinance Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 in order to restrain the court from investigating any public servant for any act done by them during the discharge of their official duties. This has been done by bringing the amendments in the Criminal Procedure code, 1973 and Indian Penal Code, 1980. In addition, as per the ordinance, no probe agency can conduct the investigation until and unless the sanction has been granted by the prosecution and the sanctioning authority has to take the decision within a period of 180 days from the date of proposal. It also prevents the media or anyone to print or publish or publicize name, address, photographs or any other details of the public servant against whom the proceedings are pending until the sanction has been issued. The contravention to the above said provisions would lead to an imprisonment up to two years and fine as well.
The move by the Rajasthan Government has already met a huge criticism by the politicians and the NGO’s terming it to be a move to shield corruption. Former Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot considered it to be an arbitrary and autocratic act which not only prevents the probe but also the compromises the transparency in the governance. He found it an assault on press media as it barred the media from reporting any cases of corruption against the public servant. He further stated that BJP is not at all serious in fighting cases against corruption and the only reason behind this ordinance is to hide the scams and to make sure of the fact that nothing comes in public domain.
The PUCL president of the Rajasthan region, Kavita Srivastava, condemned the step taken by the government and asked the government to immediately repeal this ordinance and not place in the upcoming state assembly session, as it undermines the freedom of speech and expression of media and the very fact that it doesn’t want any probe agency to begin prosecution clearly states the government wishes to hide. In addition, she said the PUCL will approach Rajasthan High Court to challenge the ordinance at the earliest.
Devkinandan Vyas, an advocate of the Rajasthan High Court stated that the amendments clearly lead to authoritarianism and autocracy taking away the power of the courts and the basic constitutional right of the freedom of speech of the people of the state.
The state government might place the bill in the forthcoming state assembly session starting from October 23.
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