Rajya Sabha MP and BJP leader Subramanian Swamy described the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill as an “ill-fated gag bill” and urged Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje to take back the controversial bill, which was tabled in the legislative assembly earlier today. “I urge Vasundara to take back her ill fated Gag Bill. It is a sterile exercise and will receive a rap from SC when the apex court strikes it down,” Swamy wrote on Twitter.
The Ordinance, promulgated by the state government last month, prohibits investigation without prior sanction against “a Judge or a Magistrate or a public servant” for any “act done by them while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of their official duties”. Besides, it also prohibits the media from reporting on the accusation against such a person until the prosecution gets the approval from the sanctioning authority, which may take up to six months.
The bill is facing strong opposition from the Congress with the state party president Sachin Pilot alleging, “The state government is trying to safeguard the interest of people through whom they conduct corruption scandals in Rajasthan.”
However, the state government succeeded in introducing the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill in the Assembly on Monday. Rajasthan Home Minister Gulabchand Kataria tabled the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2017, which seeks to replace the September 7 ordinance. Following the uproar, the House was later adjourned for the day.
The Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2017 amends the Criminal Code of Procedure, 1973 and also bars the media from naming the public servant till the Rajasthan government allows the case to be investigated.
Defending the ordinance, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad Monday said, “What I have gathered is that the idea is that there should not be any motivated complaint. Officers were feeling harassed in discharging their duties.”
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi Sunday took on Raje in a tweet, saying, “Madam Chief Minister, with all humility we are in the 21st century. It’s 2017, not 1817.”
The Editors Guild of India also expressed “deep concern” about the Rajasthan Government’s decision to make the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance 2017 into an Act in the current legislative session.
“(It) 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. The Editors Guild wants the Rajasthan Government to immediately withdraw the ordinance and desist from making it into law,” read a statement signed by Guild president Raj Chengappa, general secretary Prakash Dubey and treasurer Kalyani Shankar.