Civil rights group PUCL today demanded that a Rajasthan government ordinance protecting judges and bureaucrats from probe without its prior sanction be repealed, even as state home minister Gulabchand Kataria defended the move.
Kataria said the ordinance was brought to check those who intend to put hurdles in the government's work for publicity.The Vasundhara Raje government issued the ordinance which seeks to protect both serving and former judges, magistratesand public servants in Rajasthan from investigation for on- duty action without the state government's prior sanction.
The Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, promulgated on September 7, also sought to bar the media from reporting on accusations till the sanction to proceed with the probe was obtained.
State president of People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) Kavita Srivastava said the amendments and provisos wereto "gag the media" and "clipping" the powers of the magistrate to order a probe, investigate or take cognisance of complaints against public servants including judges and magistrates.
"We will go to the high court tomorrow against the government's move. The ordinance should be repealed," she said. "It is alarming that the intention is to prevent at the very threshold any possibility of an investigation being ordered by a magistrate when clinching evidence is prima facie brought before the court," Srivastava said.
The state government in a release tonight said there was no provision in the ordinance to protect corrupt officials. "The state government has maintained a zero-tolerance policy for corruption and there is no provision in the ordinance which gives protection to corrupt officials.
The only aim of the ordinance is that no one can tarnish the image of honest officials by misusing section 156 (3) of the CrPC."
Section 156 (3) of the CrPC empowers a magistrate to order investigation following a complaint. Earlier today, home minister Kataria told reporters in Udaipur that sanction will be deemed granted if there was no decision on the sanction request after the stipulated time period of 180 days.
He said a bill will be introduced in the assembly session beginning Monday to replace the ordinance. The ordinance, which provides 180 days immunity to the officers, reads, "No magistrate shall order an investigation nor will any investigation be conducted against a person, who is or was a judge or a magistrate or a public servant."
If there is no decision on the sanction request post the stipulated time period, it will automatically mean thatsanction has been granted. The ordinance amends the Criminal Code of Procedure, 1973 and also seeks curb on publishing and printing or publicising in any case the name, address, photograph, family details of the public servants. Violating the clause would call for two years imprisonment.