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Rajasthan daily boycotts CM over ordinance

Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje  

A leading Hindi daily of Rajasthan on Wednesday decided to boycott Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje until she revokes a controversial ordinance which has extended protection to public servants against investigation for their acts done in discharge of official duties and given sweeping powers to authorities to “gag the media”.

In a scathing front-page editorial, Rajasthan Patrika, headquartered in Jaipur, termed the ordinance, promulgated on September 6, a “black law” and announced that the newspaper would not publish any news on Ms. Raje and on the activities related to her until she repeals the law. “It is a question of democracy, freedom of speech and people’s voice,” Editor-in-Chief Gulab Kothari said.

The Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, has provided immunity to the serving and retired public servants, judges and magistrates from probe and prosecution on the complaints about their alleged offences without prior sanction from the authorities. It also bars the media from reporting on such accusations till the sanction is given and lays down two years’ imprisonment for violation of law.

While a Bill introduced in the State Assembly on October 23 for replacing the ordinance has been referred to a select committee of the House for reconsideration, the ordinance has been challenged in the Rajasthan High Court. The court’s Jodhpur and Jaipur Benches have issues notices to the Centre and the State government on as many as eight writ petitions.

The signed editorial said the State government’s move to refer the Bill to the select committee was an “eyewash”, as the ordinance was still in force and the journalists were vulnerable to the government’s punitive action. “A journalist publishing a corrupt officer’s name today can be jailed for two years. Hasn’t the government pulled the wool over people's eyes?” it said.

“Glaring mistakes”

Taking a tough stand on the issue, the newspaper said there were “glaring mistakes” in the way the Bill was tabled in the Assembly and referred to the select panel, while the “totalitarian rule” was trying to gain dominance over democracy. “[Assembly] elections are one year away. Till then, a lot of damage can be caused. Our board of directors has decided to boycott Ms. Raje until she withdraws this black law,” it said.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 1:02:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/rajasthan-daily-boycotts-cm-over-ordinance/article19963974.ece

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