City Reports

Rajasthan government refers bill that ‘shields’ corrupt officers to a select committee

The 7-member committee will suggest changes to the ordinance.

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February 1, 2018, 11:46 am

Rajasthan state assembly

Rajasthan state assembly building. Image credit: Post Staff.

Jaipur: The BJP government in Rajasthan has referred the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2017 which extends protection to public servants against any police investigation to a select committee. Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria said that there are seven members in this committee. Four members are from the ruling party while three others are from the Opposition.

The controversial ordinance, that provides immunity to serving and retired public servants, magistrates, and judges from prosecution and probe on the complaints about their alleged offenses without prior approval, was announced in September. The ordinance also bars media from reporting on these accusations until the sanction is given. Now that it has been referred to a committee, it will become inactive on 4 December.

The government will not withdraw the bill, however, is likely to remove some controversial points and reframe it as per the guidelines of a similar ordinance which is prevailing in Maharashtra. The committee is likely to present its report during the next budget session. The government has given indications of making necessary changes to the ordinance, however, the move to set up a committee could have also been made to quieten up the ongoing controversy surrounding the ordinance.  The government also doesn’t want to give any chances to the opposition to charge it with allegations of corruption.

The amendments to this ordinance could be in accordance with the pattern followed in Maharashtra. The government has given indications that the restrictions proposed on media could be rectified. The two-year sentence for exposing the names of the officials could be removed. The final decision though will be that of the committee.

The Rajasthan High Court in Jodhpur will hear the petition filed against the ordinance. The petitioner has stated that the ordinance is in conflict with the constitution. Along with sections 156-3 and 190-B CrPC, a new section 228-B has been added. According to this no common man can complain against a magistrate, judge or a public servant if he or she has indulged in any act of corruption. The freedom of media will also be curbed.

Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria had proposed the formation of a committee after massive protests in the assembly against the ordinance.

First published: November 21, 2017