The Editors Guild of India has urged the Rajasthan government to revoke its decision to make the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, into a law, NDTV reported on Monday. The ordinance bars courts from taking up cases of corruption against public servants, including legislators, minister and officials, without the government’s sanction. It also bans the media from naming the public servant till it allows the case to be investigated.
The Editors Guild said the ordinance was promulgated ostensibly to protect the judiciary and the bureaucracy against false FIRs. “But 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.”
“Rather than taking stern measures to prevent and punish those who indulge in false litigation, the Rajasthan government has passed an ordinance that is bent on bludgeoning the messenger,” the Editors Guild added.
The statement issued by the body added that it believes the ordinance is draconian and gives the state government “untrammelled power to even imprison journalists for reporting matters of public interest”.
Promulgated by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Rajasthan government on September 7, the ordinance is expected to be placed before the Assembly on Monday. The Bharatiya Janata Party has 162 seats in the 200-seat House.
Under the ordinance, the government gets 60 days to decide whether a court should hear a matter against a public servant. “No magistrate shall order an investigation nor will any investigation be conducted against a person, who is or was a judge or a magistrate or a public servant,” the ordinance states.