Rajasthan government’s criminal law bid to bludgeon media, says editors guild
The ordinance bars courts from taking up private complaints against public servants, such as serving and former judges, lawmakers, ministers and officials, without the government’s sanction.india Updated: Oct 23, 2017 08:26 IST
The editors guild of India has dubbed the Rajasthan Government’s decision to make the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 into an Act as an attempt to “bludgeoning the messenger” and curbing press freedom.
The BJP-ruled state has announced that it will bring in the Code of Criminal Procedure (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill in the Rajasthan Assembly session that starts on Monday.
The ordinance bars courts from taking up private complaints against public servants, such as serving and former judges, lawmakers, ministers and officials, without the government’s sanction.
It also bars the media from naming an accused until the government gives its nod for investigation.
Critical of the ordinance promulgated by the Vasundhara Raje government last month, the editors’ body said though it was ostensibly done to protect the judiciary and the bureaucracy against false FIRs, “in reality it is a pernicious instrument to harass the media, hide wrongful acts by government servants and drastically curb the freedom of the press guaranteed by the Constitution of India.”
It has urged the Rajasthan government to immediately withdraw the ordinance and desist from making it into law.
“Rather than taking stern measures to prevent and punish those who indulge in frivolous or false litigation, the Rajasthan government has passed an ordinance that is bent on bludgeoning the messenger.
“While the Guild has always stood for fair, balanced and responsible reporting of FIRs filed in courts of law, it believes that the remedy being employed by the Rajasthan government is draconian and gives it untrammelled power to even imprison journalists for reporting matters of public interest,” it said in a statement.
Legal experts have also criticised the move, questioning the restrictions the ordinance puts on freedom of the press.