Protests force Raje to review gag bill as Rajasthan refers it to House panel

Updated on Oct 24, 2017 02:42 PM IST

The bill bars courts from taking up complaints against ministers, judges and officials – ranging from peon to state’s top bureaucrat – without prior govt sanction.

The Rajasthan government had tabled the bill on Monday and announced the select committee in the assembly the next day.(HT File Photo)
The Rajasthan government had tabled the bill on Monday and announced the select committee in the assembly the next day.(HT File Photo)
Hindustan Times, Jaipur | By

The Rajasthan government referred a controversial bill shielding public servants from probe to an assembly select committee on Tuesday, hours after chief minister Vasundhara Raje appeared to have a re-think on a piece of legislation that has triggered widespread criticism.

The Rajasthan Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill 2017 bars courts from taking up complaints against ministers, judges and officials – ranging from a peon to the state’s top bureaucrat – without prior government sanction. It also bars the media from disclosing the identity of the accused without approval. Any violation can attract a jail term of up to two years.

Official sources said the government might rework the most controversial provisions in the bill – a gag on the media and a 180-day window for the administration to sanction prosecution against an accused public servant.

Assembly select committees usually have members from government and opposition. The Rajasthan government had tabled the bill on Monday and announced the select committee in the assembly on Tuesday. Details about the constitution of the committee and any proposed timeframe were awaited.

The decision came after a late-night meeting called by Raje that was attended by senior ministers, BJP state president and top bureaucrats. Sources said the meeting had decided to rethink the bill, which is already facing legal challenges in the Rajasthan high court and protests by the opposition Congress.

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