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Controversial gag order; Journos in Jaipur take out protest march, heres more

Miffed at the new ordinance that aims to gag journalists from reporting on corruption that  may be present and also threatens them with jail term on their job, the fraternity in Jaipur took out a protest march today against the contentious Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill tabled in Rajasthan Assembly by Vasundhara Raje Government.

However the protest was stopped around 200 metres before the state assembly. Barricades were erected as baton wielding police personnel stopped the marching journos. Several of the activists even staged a sit-in dharna as the police remained adamant in not allowing them from proceeding towards the State Assembly while the session was in motion.

Scores of journalists wore black bands, carried banners and placards and voiced serious concern against the controversial Bill. As alleged by the journalists and opposition, this is aimed at gagging the media from publishing news about any matter involving current and former bureaucrats, in case permission to hold investigation by the government is pending during the 180 day period.

“This bill is aimed at gagging the media and snatching the freedom of press. The Bill, in the form it has been presented, seeks to curb the functioning of the press and is unacceptable to us”, a senior journalist told India Today.

After receiving severe criticism from different quarters, Vasundhara Raje-led Rajasthan Government referred the Bill to a Select Committee of the Assembly on Tuesday.

The bill was introduced during Special Session of the Rajasthan Assembly after Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance, 2017, was promulgated last month on September 7.

People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) had hit out at the Raje Government for the ordinance.

A statement issued by the PUCL mentioned, “The Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 promulgated on September 6, 2017, published on September 7, 2017 in the Gazette is a sinister attempt of the Government of Rajasthan to abridge the fundamental right of speech and expression guaranteed under the Indian Constitution and to thwart the citizens right to access criminal justice system in cases of complaints against the abuse of law by public servants by introducing 2 provisos to Sec. 156 (3) and Sec. 190 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and by inserting a new offence in the Indian Penal Code by way of introducing a new clause, Sec. 228-B, which makes an offence termed “disclosure of identity of certain public servants.”

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