Mumbai: A newly proposed ordinance by the Vasundhara Raje government in Rajasthan threatens the very nature of democracy in the state. The ordinance if passed would prevent courts in Rajasthan from taking cases filed against government officials without the prior approval from the government. The ordinance also proposes a two-year jail sentence to any journalist for reporting on accused officials without the government’s permission.
It is hard to term this bill as anything but a ‘gag law’. A law meant to ‘gag’ the media from reporting on issues that the government doesn’t want to come to light. In a country where people encounter corruption at almost every occurrence and where high-ranking government officials swindle away crores of the taxpayer’s money in numerous scams and dirty dealings, the investigative journalism of the media is one of the only ways through which the activities of these corrupt officials ever become known to the public. Thus, it is critical for us to oppose this bill at every step of the way.
The Raje government defends its actions by claiming that the new bill would curb the filing of false cases against honest government officials. The government blames the media for the filing of false cases. It states on the website of Department of Information and Public Relations of Rajasthan, “Due to inferiority and personal animosity, lawsuits are filed against any of the reputed and big public figures and the news spreads against them in the media. With this, the image of the public servant becomes tarnished and he has to face mental anguish and false slander. Later, most of these cases are found to be fake and they have police FIR. Therefore, this amendment has been done to curb false cases so that honest and distinguished public servants can discharge their duties without any mental resentment and they have not been victims of false slander.” It is true to some extent that the media often at times overexaggerates or reports on fake news stories, which do lead to unfortunate consequences for the victim. But to merely leave it up to the government to decide on what cases can and cannot be reported on, would leave the people surrendering themselves to the governments mercy and only hoping that its officials do not steal their tax money.
ALSO READ: Nokia 8.1 spotted on GeekBench, Leaks Several of Handset's Details before the Official Launch
The proposal of such a blatantly undemocratic law has rightfully shocked many around the nation. The anger with widespread outrage being levied against Vasundhara Raje herself. The ordinance has received much criticism, with even two lawmakers of the BJP, Raje’s own party coming out publicly to condemn the bill. The bill was even tabled in the Rajasthan Assembly and is as of now according to the government going to be placed under review by a panel. For now, the crisis seems to have been averted but we must not let this small victory make us forget about this issue for it is a struggle where democracy itself hangs in the balance.