‘It’s 2017, Not 1817’: Rahul Gandhi Takes A Dig At Vasundhara Raje
The Vasundhara Raje government has passed an ordinance which shields both serving and former judges, magistrates, and public servants in Rajasthan from being investigated regarding on-duty action – i.e. while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of their official duties – without its prior sanction.
"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," reads the ordinance, which will be in force for 6 months.
If there is no decision on the sanction request post the stipulated time period, it will automatically come into force.
The ordinance amends the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (CrPC) and also seeks to curb publishing and printing or publicising in any case the name, address, photograph, family details of the public servants.
In furtherance of this, they also added a new offence under the Indian Penal Code 1860 (IPC), applicable to Rajasthan during the validity of the ordinance. Under this new section 228B, a person who discloses the identity of the judges, magistrates, or public servants being so investigated, can face two years’ imprisonment and/or be liable to pay a sum of money as a fine.
Subramanian Swamy Says Ordinance Violates 2015 SC Judgement
Senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy took to Twitter on Saturday, 21 October, to oppose the BJP-led Rajasthan government’s new ordinance.
Congress Attacks Rajasthan Government
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday took a swipe at CM Raje over the ordinance, pointing out that the year was "2017, not 1817".
He also tagged a news report entitled “Rajasthan ordinance is against free speech, say legal experts”.
Reacting to the passing of the ordinance, Rajasthan Congress leader Sachin Pilot had earlier said, “We are absolutely shocked by the way the government is trying to institutionalise corruption... It shows the mindset. They are not willing to stand up against corruption.”
Pilot, a former Member of Parliament from Ajmer constituency, further asserted:
Former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, in a series of tweets said, "Rajasthan's BJP government is acting autocratically by making arbitrary changes to the criminal procedure code.
PUCL, Lawyers Condemn Ordinance
Civil rights group PUCL on Saturday condemned the Rajasthan government's ordinance.
State president of People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Kavita Srivastava said the amendments and provisos were to "gag the media" and "clipping" the powers of the magistrate to order an investigation, investigate or take cognisance of complaints against public servants including judges and magistrates.
"We will go to the high court tomorrow against the government's move. The ordinance should be repealed," she said.
"It is alarming that the intention is to prevent at the very threshold any possibility of an investigation being ordered by a magistrate when clinching evidence is prima facie brought before the court," Srivastava said.
Soli Sorabjee, former attorney-general of India, believes that the state government went a bit overboard and that the ordinance is the equivalent of a gag order, reported BloombergQuint.
"Amendments in the existing law are wholly unjust. It will not only snatch away powers of the courts, but it's an onrush upon the freedom of speech of the people of the state. These amendments are absolutely unconstitutional. One will be left with no option if police will refuse to register an FIR against a public servant," Devkinandan Vyas, advocate, Rajasthan High Court, Jodhpur said.
Vyas said the present amendments will lead the state towards "authoritarianism and autocracy".
‘Ordinance Meant to End False Allegations Against Officials’: Rajasthan Minister
While the Congress tore into the Rajasthan government over the ordinance, Rajendra Rathore, Rajasthan's parliamentary affairs minister, sought to defend it. Rathore told NDTV that the law “was a response to a flood of false allegations against public servants to demoralise them”.
“People were filing false cases against public servants and that is the reason we have brought this law,” NDTV quoted the minister as saying.
(With inputs from PTI, ANI, NDTV and News18.)