'Rajasthan ordinance violates free speech': International Press Institute seeks Narendra Modi's intervention

The International Press Institute on Friday called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to direct the Rajasthan government to negate the controversial ordinance and withdraw the bill that bars the media from reporting allegations of wrongdoing involving public officials.

PTI October 27, 2017 21:23:21 IST
'Rajasthan ordinance violates free speech': International Press Institute seeks Narendra Modi's intervention

New Delhi: The International Press Institute on Friday called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to direct the Rajasthan government to negate the controversial ordinance and withdraw the bill that bars the media from reporting allegations of wrongdoing involving public officials.

In a letter to Modi, Barbara Trionfi, executive director of the Vienna-based IPI, termed the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance 2017 "draconian" and said it violates Article 19 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression.

"We now understand that the government of Rajasthan has introduced a bill in the state legislative Assembly to convert the draconian provisions of the ordinance into permanent state law," the letter said.

Rajasthan ordinance violates free speech International Press Institute seeks Narendra Modis intervention

File image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PIB

In a separate letter to Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, Trionfi requested her to withdraw the bill from the state Assembly, as well as the ordinance.

Trionfi said the ordinance not only places prior restraint on free and fair reporting, but it also threatens editors and journalists with imprisonment.

"The IPI strongly condemns the gagging of the press through this ordinance. The IPI also calls upon you (Modi) to intervene with the government of Rajasthan, and direct the state government to immediately negate the ordinance through the constitutional route, and withdraw the bill now under the consideration by the state Assembly," the letter said.

On 23 October, the Rajasthan government tabled the bill which seeks to protect public servants and judges from prosecution without its prior sanction. The bill seeks to replace 'Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance 2017' promulgated on 7 September.

The ordinance also bars the media from reporting on such accusations till the sanction to proceed with the probe is given by the government.

Following an uproar, the bill was referred to a select committee of the Assembly.

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