Senior Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Ghanshyam Tiwari on 23rd October n joined the Congress and the National People’s Party in opposing a Rajasthan government ordinance, and the corresponding bill, to protect judges and public servants from being investigated without its prior sanction.
“This is a Kala kanoon (black law) and I am against it,” the senior BJP MLA told reporters on the assembly premises.
Led by Leader of the Opposition Rameshwar Dudi, the Congress legislators, their mouths covered with black bands, took out a protest march from the MLA quarters to the assembly building.
Holding placards and shouting slogans against Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, the MLAs entered the assembly premises and accused the Bharatiya Janata Party government of patronising corruption.
This statement by a BJP leader is surely an indication of Democracy still being prevalent and it holds more importance when it comes to party politics. This move is really commendable and is add on to the principle “even the smallest voice can make a difference in a big way”.
The rebel party leader wrote to Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria, saying he should see his letter as a form of political protest and urged him to reconsider the decision.
The Vasundhara Raje government has promulgated the ordinance, which seeks to protect both serving and former judges, magistrates and public servants from investigation for on-duty action without the state government’s prior sanction.
“The bill that you will introduce in the assembly in next few days will pave the way to form a law, which will shield the open loot of the chief minister, ministers and public servants,” Tiwari wrote in the letter.
He said it will be a “dark day for democracy” when the bill will be introduced in the Rajasthan Assembly. “As the bill is related to your department, I request you to reconsider it in the Cabinet. If it is introduced in the assembly, I will protest against the bill, which is aimed to strangulate democracy in Rajasthan,” he added.
The Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill, 2017 amends the Criminal Code of Procedure, 1973 and also bars the media from naming the public servant till the Rajasthan government allows the case to be investigated.
The Bill by the Vasundhara Raje government seeks to protect both serving and former judges, magistrates and public servants from investigation for on-duty action without the state government’s prior sanction
Meanwhile, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the Rajasthan High Court challenging the validity of the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance which was earlier promulgated by the Rajasthan government. Senior Lawyer AK Jain filed the plea, saying the ordinance was a ‘licence to commit a crime, and that it was arbitrary and malafide’.
Some of the arguments which petition encompasses are mentioned below:
- The arbitrary protection against investigation violates Articles 14 (right to equality) and 21 (right to life) of the Constitution, says the PIL.
- The bill subverts independent investigation of erring bureaucrats and strikes at the core of rule of law and the principles of independent, unhampered, unbiased and efficient investigation.
- It also takes away a citizen’s fundamental right to a fair investigation, which is a part of the right to life.
- There is no reason to bring in the changes as public servants are already protected from vexatious litigation under Section 197 of the CrPC.
- The bill usurps judiciary’s powers. It takes away the power of a magistrate to direct police to register an FIR and probe a complaint, violating the basic structure of the Constitution.
- It also goes against a five-judge constitution bench order. In Lalita Kumari vs State of UP case, the Supreme Court had ruled that an investigation in a cognizable offence couldn’t be withheld and registering an FIR was mandatory.
- The court also said sanction was only required for prosecution and not for opening an investigation.
- The mandatory approval from the government will forewarn erring bureaucrats before an investigation can even begin.
- It is not clear what the ordinance aims to achieve.
The defying leader’s role herein explains that still there are people who think reasonably and believe in ethics and democratic structure and their importance and relevance cannot be compromised at any cost. BJP government in Rajasthan has to understand and comprehend “logic” and look at overall consequences when its own member is able to distinguish between right and wrong; it surely needs some review in its working.
By – Ritu Jagwani