The Rajasthan government has defended its controversial ordinance that seeks to protect serving and former judges, magistrates and public servants in the state from being investigated for on-duty action without its prior sanction. In a detailed statement put out on its official website, the Department of Information and Public Relations of the Rajasthan government said that the ordinance will help honest public servants discharge their duties without harassment, but will not protect corrupt ones.
"There is no provision in the Penal Code (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, promulgated by the state government, which has weakened the will power of zero tolerance against corruption. Continuing on its policy of zero tolerance, the government has not spoken anywhere in this ordinance to provide protection to corrupt public servants," reads the notification.
The 'Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance, 2017', promulgated on 7 September, amends the Criminal Code of Procedure, 1973, and seeks to bar the media from reporting on accusations against judges, magistrates and public servants till sanction to proceed with the probe is obtained.
To justify the ordinance, the state government in its notification said that the amendment has been done to curb false cases, so that honest and distinguished public servants can discharge their duties without any mental harassment.
The government said that the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly had passed a similar amendment in December 2015.
"Due to inferiority and personal animosity, lawsuits are filed against reputed and big public figures, and the news spreads against them in the media. With this, the image of the public servant becomes tarnished, and he has to face mental anguish and false slander. Later, most of these cases are found to be fake," said the government.
The government claimed that it was found that incidents for which the complaint was filed "did not occur" in nearly 73 percent police cases filed under Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The government said that the Supreme Court had also made a strong comment regarding misuse of Section 156 (3). "Supreme Court had also commented on 17 November, 2015, in a decision in the Civil Write Petition No. 933 case that the system can be improved only when an honest officer or the public servant is protected and the corrupt should be made aware that he is not above the law," the government said.
Expressing its commitment against corruption, the government said that in Rajasthan in the last three-and-a-half years, the Anti-Corruption Bureau has registered 1,158 cases. It said that even senior IAS officers (two existing and one retired) were jailed for corruption charges. The government added that it has not made any amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday took a swipe at Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje over the controversial ordinance, pointing out that the year was "2017, not 1817".
The Editors Guild of India on Sunday expressed concerns over the ordinance, calling it a "pernicious instrument" to harass the media. The guild said that the law is an attempt by the Vasundhara Raje government to whitewash the corrupt practices of government servants and drastically curb the freedom of the press".
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Oct 23, 2017 13:49:27 IST