Dissent in Rajasthan BJP over Vasundhara Raje's 'Gag Law'

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In September the Rajasthan government through an ordinance, Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, made amendments in the Criminal Procedure code, 1973 and Indian Penal Code, 1980, in order to restrain the courts from ordering an investigation against a person, who is or was a judge or magistrate or a public servant, for any act done by them during discharge of their official duties.

In what seemingly triggered a nation-wide political turmoil is that even media has been barred from naming the accused or furnishing any detail about him/her till the government gives a green signal on further investigation against the accused.

According to the ordinance, 180 days of immunity is provided to the officers.

Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje.

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She had filed an application with the Supreme Court's Human Rights Cell on behalf of Fauzia Ansari, Hamid Ansari's mother. Hamid Ansari, the Indian citizen was arrested in Pakistan in 2012 for illegally entering the country.

It said under the proposed law, the media can not report on accusations against magistrates and others until the prosecution gets the go-ahead from the sanctioning authority.

A Jaipur-based activist on Monday filed a writ petition in the Rajasthan High Court against the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, for being ultra vires of the Constitution of India. "Absolutely shocked by how the state government is trying to institutionalise corruption", Rajasthan Congress President Sachin Pilot was quoted as saying by ANI. If no decision is taken on the sanction after the stipulated period, the sanction will be automatically granted.

The Rajasthan government's move to amend a law on probing public servants has met with large-scale criticism, with politicians and rights bodies terming it as unconstitutional and a move to shield corruption. There should be transparency and we will oppose this Bill. Violating the ordinance will result in a punishment of two years of imprisonment.

"Such a draconian bill should not be brought in, we will raise this in a meet today", BJP leader N Rajvi told the media. Such protection from action in a law (replacing an ordinance that's in force) to stall probes to establish the truth of media and whistleblower allegations is a dire threat to freedom of the press and people's rights.