This ill-advised law reportedly has the Centre’s blessings as evident in a junior minister saying it was “perfect and balanced”.
The Rajasthan government’s Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill to shield judges and public servants from corruption probes is the most devious legislation since the days of Emergency. Such protection from action in a law (replacing an ordinance that’s in force) to stall probes to establish the truth of media and whistleblower allegations is a dire threat to freedom of the press and people’s rights. The controversial Bill, tabled in the state Assembly on Monday, doesn’t simply seek to preclude the unmasking of corrupt judges and officials but tries to reverse the democratic process of people seeking a probe by arming the government with powers to arrest and jail them for two years if they defy the law and name those suspected of making money at the cost of the state.
This ill-advised law reportedly has the Centre’s blessings as evident in a junior minister saying it was “perfect and balanced”. The gag on the media is a clear violation of the freedom of democracy’s fourth pillar and whose mission is to expose the shenanigans of corrupt officials and whose nexus with politicians is the single biggest factor behind the loot of national resources. Public servants against whom corruption charges are raised will be immune from being named publicly for six months or until the state gives sanction for a probe. And since babus and netas run the government, the implications of such powers to inhibit investigation as well as harass accusers are clear as daylight. If the Rajasthan government defies the right to insist on basic tenets of honesty in public life, it’s an invitation to anarchy. This is clearly unacceptable in a democratic country.