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Rajasthan Government Amends Laws To Shield Judges And Public Servants From Probes

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| October 21 , 2017 , 16:38 IST

Rajasthan Government has passed an ordinance which makes it mandatory to obtain a Government sanction before investigating both serving and former Judges, Magistrates, and public servants for any “act done by them while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of their official duties”. Promulgated on 7 September, The Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 amended Section 156 and 190 of Code of Criminal Procedure Code.
According to media reports, the Rajasthan Government in Rajasthan is also ready with a Bill to replace this ordinance. The Code of Criminal Procedure (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill will replace the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 which the government intends to bring in the assembly session that begins on Monday.

The Ordinance made the following additions to sections 156 (3) and 190 (1) of the CrPC : “Provided that, under the aforesaid sub-section, no Magistrate shall order an investigation nor will any investigations be conducted against a person, who is or was a Judge or a Magistrate or a public servant, as defined under any law for the time being in force, in respect of the act done by them while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of their official duties, expect with previous sanction under section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.”

CrPC section 197 details the sanctioning authorities with respect to prosecution of judges and public servants.

However, the Ordinance empowers the sanctioning authority to take a decision in six months, from the date of the receipt of the proposal for sanction. If the sanctioning authority fails to issue prosecution sanction within six months, it shall be deemed to have been issued.

The Ordinance also gags the media from sharing any information about the accusations or allegations against such officers, till the sanctioning authority gives a go-ahead.

“Provided also that no one shall print or publish or publicize in any manner the name, address, photographs, family details, or any other particulars which may lead to disclosure of identity of a Judge or Magistrate or a public servant against whom any proceedings under this section is pending, until the sanction as aforesaid has been or deemed to have been issued.”

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An insertion of section 228-B “Disclosure of identity of certain public servants” in the Indian Penal Code rounds up the Ordinance, “Whoever contravenes the provisions of fourth proviso of sub-section (3) of section 156, and fourth proviso of sub-section 190… shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine.”

Legal experts and activists have questioned this move and have criticized the Rajasthan government.