Faced With Massive Protests, Rajasthan Govt Defers Controversial Bill To Select Committee

| October 24 , 2017 , 15:31 IST

The controversial amendment to the Criminal Laws Bill in Rajasthan tabled in the state assembly on Monday was received with massive protests, after which the state government has referred the bill amendment to a select committee of the assembly on Tuesday.

The bill amendment sought to bar law enforcement authorities from probing ministers and public servants without prior sanction, as well as prohibiting media from reporting any accusations against such persons until a sanction is granted. Any journalist violating the rule would face 2 years of jail time.

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According to reports, after widespread outrage against the ordinance and protests outside the state assembly, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje discussed the matter with top ministers and has deferred the move until the next session of assembly. A select committee headed by the state home minister will review the amendment ordinance and a reviewed version would be introduced in the next session of the state assembly.

Introduced as an executive order last month, the ordinance has been termed as a 'gag-order' and faced protests from the Opposition, activists and two BJP lawmakers as well. The ordinance was challenged in the Rajasthan High Court as well, with the petition claiming that the order would allow a "large section of the society the license to commit crime".

Although similar laws prohibiting action against officials have been passed in Maharashtra, reportedly no law has attempted to gag the media.

The Rajasthan government defended the ordinance saying that such a law was necessary to end "frivolous allegations" meant to defame ministers and officials.