Maharashtra Friday passed a legislation to curb the growing instances of attack on journalists, making the offence non-bailable and punishable with up to three years of imprisonment and a fine up to Rs 50,000.
The Maharashtra Media Persons and Media Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage or Loss to Property), Act, 2017 was passed in the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council on the concluding day of the Budget Session.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “The state has enacted a special law to effectively check attacks against mediapersons. It is to protect and safeguard the mediapersons and property of the mediapersons or media institutions.”
The demand for such a legislation had been pending for the last 12 years. The Congress-NCP government had constituted a committee, which was divided on bringing a legislation, due to which the previous regime had kept the matter on hold. Any incident of violence against mediapersons or damage or loss of property of mediapersons or media institutions would invite punishment now. The offender who commits or attempts to commit or instigate or provokes the commission of any act of violence would be punished with imprisonment extending up to three years with fine, which may extend to Rs 50,000 or both.
It says a police officer not below the rank of deputy superintendent of police would investigate any offence under this Act.
The offence would be cognisable and non-bailable, and tried by a court of judicial magistrate first class. Fadnavis added, “While the Act is in place, I would appeal to all media associations to ensure it is not misused.”
Media organisations across the state welcomed the decision.