Rajasthan ordinance: Vasundhara Raje’s ‘reasons’ similar to those of Rajiv Gandhi’s 1988 Defamation Bill

The Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, brought in by the Vasundhara Raje government in Rajasthan, carries echoes of the draconian Defamation Bill which then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi tried to enact and was forced to abandon in 1988.

Written by Pradeep Kaushal | New Delhi | Updated: October 24, 2017 7:04 am
vasundhara raje, rajasthan, Rajasthan government, BJP, Rajiv gandhi, rajasthan ordinance,  rajiv gandhi 1988 defamation bill, investigation against public servants, govt officer corruption, rajasthan cm, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje. (File photo)

The Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, brought in by the Vasundhara Raje government in Rajasthan, carries echoes of the draconian Defamation Bill which then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi tried to enact and was forced to abandon in 1988. Consider the objectives stated in Rajiv Gandhi’s Bill: “It is proposed to make publication of imputations falsely alleging commission of offences by any person as an offence. Those who make such imputations often have no intention of pursuing the matter any further with the appropriate authorities. Their only intention appears to be to bring a person’s reputation in to question. It is considered necessary to check this tendency so that freedom of speech, which is the very essence of democracy, does not degenerate in to mere licence….”

The Rajasthan Bill has, ostensibly, a similar purpose.

Its statement of Objects and Reasons says: “Public Servants are entrusted with important task of policy formulation and decision-making on matters of vital national interests. Such duties require a conducive and supportive environment, where they can operate in hassle free conditions. This is why they are given special protection under the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973, to insulate their working from every day allegations, many of which might be driven by vested interest, creating a fear psychosis and ultimately leading to indecision and policy paralysis. Thus, the need of the hour is to fill in the existing gap, so as to retain protection for honest official while making corrupt realize that no one is above law…These amendments will provide protection to the public servants from scurrilous and non-substantiable charges and also protect honest public servants from inquiries and processes of court and police as previous sanction has been made mandatory.

READ | Under fire from Opposition, Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje asks ministers to ‘reconsider’ controversial bill

“The main issue is that false and fictitious cases are being brought before the police or judiciary with the intention of maligning, bringing avoidable and unnecessary disrepute or settling scores with an unrelenting public officer,” the Bill states. “This position needs to be remedied and for this purpose publication of name, address, photograph, family details, or any other particulars which may lead to disclosure of identity of a Judge or Magistrate or a public servant against whom any proceeding is pending has been prohibited until the prosecution sanction is issued.”

Chapter III of Raje’s Bill stipulates that the guilty “shall be punished with imprisonment …for a term which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine”. Rajiv Gandhi’s Bill also stipulated a two-year prison term — and for a subsequent offence, it said the term could go up to five years.

Rajiv Gandhi’s Bill, incidentally, offered some safeguards against misuse of the legislation. It said that in case anybody made a false allegation, he could be sentenced to jail for at least one month, extendable to one year for a first-time offence, and up to two years, for a second-time offender. The sweep of the 1988 bill of Rajiv Gandhi, however, was wider than Raje’s Bill. It brought within its ambit even a deceased person if the imputation would harm his reputation “and is intended to be hurtful to the feelings of his family or other near relatives”.

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  1. A
    Oct 24, 2017 at 12:39 pm
    Like Rajiv Gandhi, she has a large majority like him, she will not get reelected.
    1. S
      Oct 24, 2017 at 12:08 pm
      Modi is the only leader who can run India. His trademark initiatives all have reached its objectives. Demonetization has shown the society a mirror, a mirror to looking at our ownselves how selfish we have become, acccepting bribes, accepting black money and giving black money whereever possible. At least people are reflecting upon the ways in which they are cheating the system. Everyone tries to evade tax, everyone runs on black money. Time for self introspection and time to make everything white! Become pure! SWACH BHARAT ABHIYAN, mega hit where everyone is now conscious to throw litter in dustbins and not on roads. GST made taxation easy! Remember, government kept the onus on businesses to pass on GST benefits to end customers. But businesses being selfish have increased prices and now govt. is so understanding they are revising GST percentages. Only BJP and MODI can save India! Jai Hind!
      1. S
        Oct 24, 2017 at 12:35 pm
        MODI is the only one, after getting such a brutal majority, could ruin a nation like this...What he has made in India with MAKE IN INDIA is a a couple of MODI-ADDICTED people like you. He is on the way out....and that's why GOVT is not at all enthusiastic for Gujrat election.
      2. S
        Oct 24, 2017 at 11:35 am
        MODI SHAH every time they are caught red handed they will declare 'Congress too did earlier...so give us too a chance to do so' Our so called fake nationalist/ patriots are doing overtime to defend their holy leader everyday.
        1. Sayed Maqsood Ahmed
          Oct 24, 2017 at 11:14 am
          This is nothing but to divert the attention of the people of Gujarat and Himachal where elections are due. Raje is playing a smart game on the advice of his bis boss feku modi and sooner or later she will withdraw this bill, just playing the game and nothing else. I would advise people of Gujarat and HP not to give any weight to this issue. BJP is a double standard party and GST is GABBAR SINGH TAX. HAHAHAHAH This news will be dead within a couple of days
          1. J
            Oct 24, 2017 at 11:11 am
            चोर से ही पूछो की क्या मैं आपको चोर घोषित कर सकता हूँ। आ गया भारत में तानाशाही का वक्त
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