City Reports

Rajasthan government withdraws bill that shielded bureaucrats, gagged media

The bill was termed ‘kala kanoon’ in the media and by the public at large. The controversial ordinance, that provided 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.

February 22, 2018, 6:25 pm

vasundhara raje

Former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje.

Jaipur: After facing widespread protest and ridicule for the bill that shielded bureaucrats for almost five months, the Rajasthan government is finally on the back foot. Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on Monday announced that the government was withdrawn the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2017. Had the bill been enacted, it would have been almost impossible for people to register FIRs against government officials without obtaining a prior permission from the state government. The bill was termed ‘kala kanoon’ in the media and by the public at large. The controversial ordinance, that provided 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 barred media from reporting on these accusations until the sanction was given. After the Opposition launched a protest campaign against the government, cornering it in the assembly, the bill was referred to a select committee. Chief minister Raje said on Monday that the bill was being taken back from the committee. “The Opposition is protesting against a bill that was not even passed in the assembly,” said Raje. The ordinance stated that no FIR could be lodged against any public servant, nor the police were allowed to file an FIR. People couldn’t move to the court against any public servant nor could the judge take any decision against any serving or former judges, magistrates and public servants in the state. The ordinance further mentioned that at the government level the competent authority would have to give the permission of an investigation within 180 days. If there is no reply within 180 days, it would be considered as granted. The ordinance passed by the state government was an amendment of the Criminal Code of Procedure, 1973 and also sought to curb publishing and printing or publicising, in any case, the name, address, photograph, family details of the public servants.

First published: February 19, 2018