House select committee seeks more time on gag bill for submitting report
After Governor Kalyan Singh’s address to the budget session of the Assembly, home minister Gulab Chand Kataria, who is chairman of the select committee, sought an extension until the first week of next session to submit its report on the bill.Updated: Feb 05, 2018 21:50 IST
The select committee of the Rajasthan Assembly, which is deliberating upon the controversial Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2017, commonly referred to as the gag bill, sought more time on Monday before submitting its report.
After Governor Kalyan Singh’s address to the budget session of the Assembly, home minister Gulab Chand Kataria, who is chairman of the select committee, sought an extension until the first week of next session to submit its report on the bill.
The state government brought an ordinance that sought to shield public servants, judges and magistrates from investigation without the sanction of the state government. The ordinance came into effect on September 7 and lapsed on the night of December 4 but it set off a firestorm of protests. The government introduced a bill to replace the ordinance in the Assembly on October 23 but referred it to the select committee following protests.
An ordinance can only remain valid for 42 days after a bill to turn it into a law is tabled in the assembly.
The bill makes it mandatory for judicial magistrates to seek the government’s nod before taking note of corruption complaints against former and sitting judges and public servants filed under Section 156 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
The bill also provided for a two-year jail term for mediapersons who report such complaints before the government gives its go-ahead. For this reason, it was also called the gag bill.
The government said it brought the ordinance followed by a bill to check misuse of CrPC section 156 (3).
Kataria sought the extension until the first week of the next assembly session. Soon after, BJP MLA Ghanshyam Tiwari raised objections. He asked the government to tell the House how many meetings the select committee had held and what they discussed.
Tiwari said that it was replacing the bill for an ordinance. He said that the ordinance has already lapsed and in the high court the government had stated that it does not intend to bring the law, then why does the government want to extend this.
He also had heated arguments with parliamentary affairs minister Rajendra Rathore. The extension was given by voice vote.
“Two bills in the last assembly session were sent to select committee of which five meetings were held to discuss on The Code of Criminal Procedure (Rajasthan Amendment) 2017. The committee needs more time to discuss The Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) 2017,” said Rathore.
Tiwari walked out of the house in protest.
A member of the select committee, who did not wish to be named, said that the panel met five times after the bill was referred to it but it did not discuss the bill.
“The bill was only referred to once on January 30, the last time the panel met. Committee members Manik Chand Surana, Pradhyuman Singh and Kirori Lal Meena were against the bill. Kataria, who heads the committee, was in favour of approving the bill unanimously,” the member added.