After row, Rajasthan govt withdraws controversial ‘gag’ bill | india news | Hindustan Times
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After row, Rajasthan govt withdraws controversial ‘gag’ bill

india Updated: Feb 20, 2018 08:56 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
Rajasthan,Vasundhara raje,Media gag

Chief minister Vasundhara Raje announced the bill’s withdrawal in the assembly on Monday, saying an ordinance it had replaced too had lapsed. (HT File Photo)

The Rajasthan government has withdrawn the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill 2017 that triggered widespread accusations against the ruling BJP of seeking to shield politicians from complaints and attempting to gag the media.

Chief minister Vasundhara Raje announced the bill’s withdrawal in the assembly on Monday, saying an ordinance it had replaced too had lapsed.

The bill proposed to bar courts from taking up complaints against ministers, judges, and state’s officials without government sanction. It also proposed to bar the media from disclosing the identity of an accused without approval, and suggested a jail term of up to two years for any violation.

The bill was introduced on October 23 last year, and referred to a select committee the next day following uproar. The bill was tabled to replace a September 6, 2017, ordinance that also sought to shield politicians, public servants, serving and former judges and magistrates from being investigated without the government’s sanction. The ordinance was challenged in the Rajasthan high court.

The select committee, which was supposed to submit its report on the bill in the budget session beginning February 5, was given an extension after it sought more time for discussions.

Following withdrawal of the bill, state Congress president Sachin Pilot said, “Rajasthan’s image has gone down because of the stubborn attitude of this government in not shelving the bill immediately after the ordinance lapsed. The CM must explain what was the need for sending the bill to the select committee, and why the ordinance was promulgated in the first place.”

The opposition, lawyers, civil rights activists and journalists had taken to the streets to oppose the government’s move. The Rajasthan high court had also issued a notice to the Centre and state government over the “immunity” ordinance.

The government’s stated position was it brought the ordinance, followed by the bill, to check misuse of the Code Of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) section 156 (3), which deals with a police officer’s power to investigate a cognizable case.

First Published: Feb 19, 2018 23:09 IST