JAIPUR: Rajasthan’s controversial order shielding ministers, lawmakers and government officials from investigations into complaints against them without sanction has been challenged in the High Court. An ordinance or executive order put out last month by the Vasundhara Raje government bars courts from taking up complaints against public servants without the government’s approval. It also makes it a crime to identify the minister, lawmaker or official against whom a complaint has been filed in the court. The Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance was to be introduced for enactment today in the state assembly, where the BJP has 162 of 200 seats.
1.A petition calls the proposed law “arbitrary and malafide” and against the right to “fair investigation as well as equality”.
2.The law gives the government six months to decide if a court should order a probe into a private complaint against a minister, lawmaker or an official.
3.It also bans the media from disclosing the identity of judges or any public servant facing allegations unless the government has vetted the case.
4.Journalists can be sentenced to two years in jail for any violation of the new rule, which makes changes to law through an executive order or ordinance issued on September 7.
5.The restriction will apply to cases where the allegation can be linked to a public servant’s official work, and it will apply to current as well as former ministers and officials.
6.Confronting widespread outrage, the Rajasthan government defended its move, saying a law was necessary to end frivolous allegations meant to defame ministers and officials.
7.Rajendra Rathore, Rajasthan’s Parliamentary Affairs Minister, told NDTV: “People were filing false cases against public servants and that is the reason we have brought this law.”
8.Targeting Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, in a tweet against what critics have dubbed the “gag order”, posted on the weekend: “Madam Chief Minister, with all humility we are in the 21’st century. It’s 2017, not 1817.”
9.The Congress-led government of Manmohan Singh had first moved similar changes in 2013 to the anti-corruption law, ostensibly to protect honest public servants.
10.Earlier, the Supreme Court had upheld the right of a private citizen to set the anti-bribery law in motion in January 2012, and said that the constitutional right of a citizen to file a complaint “should not be burdened with unreasonable fetters”.