Two Union ministers on Monday defended a controversial Rajasthan government bill which seeks to protect judges and public servants from being investigated without its prior sanction, saying the move was aimed at insulating honest officers and prevent policy paralysis.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the bill was aimed at preventing motivated complaints. His junior minister P P Chaudhary said the idea was not to defend the corrupt or wrong-doers, but to ensure that honest judges, magistrates and public servants were not harassed.
“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,” Prasad told reporters at a press conference at the BJP headquarters.
He said he returned from an overseas trip last night and could not study the legislation in detail, but added that the state government has cited reasons for introducing the bill.
He referred to a study by Rajasthan’s BJP government, which has said that over 73 per cent of such cases were false.
In an interview to PTI, Chaudhary said the amendments in the code of criminal procedure and the code of civil procedure seek to “insulate” public servants from day-to-day allegations driven by “vested interests which create a fear psychosis in their minds and ultimately lead to indecision and policy paralysis.”
He said the Maharashtra assembly cleared a similar legislation in 2015.
He said the proposed bill will check media trial. “What if the official is later found to be innocent…there will be a media trial and he will spend years in jail,” he said.
The minister of state explained that the state government can grant a sanction for investigation within six months. “There is no provision to extend the six-month period.”
Responding to a question, he said the bill can “withstand judicial scrutiny”.
Amid an uproar from the opposition Congress party, Rajasthan Home Minister Gulabchand Kataria today tabled the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2017, in the assembly to replace an ordinance it promulgated last month.
The ordinance 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.
It also bars the media from reporting on such accusations till the sanction to proceed with the probe is given by the government.