Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria on Sunday defended an ordinance brought in by the Rajasthan government, which 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”.
He said he had to face media trial after being named by the CBI in its probe into the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case. In April 2014, the agency had filed murder and conspiracy charges against Kataria and three others in the 2005 case. However, in February 2015, a special CBI court in Mumbai discharged Kataria, citing “insufficient” evidence.
Defending the ordinance, Kataria said, “What happened with me in Sohrabuddin case; I was named in the case and all of country’s media surrounded me, as if I had killed Sohrabuddin. But what eventually came out was that there was no evidence (against me). But the kind of media trial I faced, and I faced the courts too.”
Under the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, promulgated on September 6 by Governor Kalyan Singh, the media, too, cannot report on the accusation against a judge or a magistrate or a public servant till the prosecution gets the go-ahead from the sanctioning authority, which may take up to six months.
Kataria said, “So the reason we are bringing an amendment in CrPC section 156 (3) is that Rajasthan is among the top states (where a case is filed under the said section) for the past several years. If you take a look at National Crime Report Bureau statistics, some 36 per cent cases (in Rajasthan) come under 156 (3).”
He said that among those cases, a Final Report was filed in 70-75 per cent cases. As per official figures, 2,47,756 cases were filed under CrPC section 156 (3), between 2013 and June 2017 in Rajasthan. The government said that out of these, a Final Report stating that the incident did not occur was filed in 1,76,254 cases, while a challan was filed only in 60,740 cases — wrong address, lack of evidence, case pending, etc. account for the remaining cases.
“So to take action in these over 2.3 lakh cases cases, you can imagine the time and the police force employed,” Kataria said. He added that media trial affects the morale of public servants.
In the Assembly session that starts on Monday, the government will bring in The Code of Criminal Procedure (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill to replace the ordinance. The Congress said its MLAs will take out a protest.