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FMP's statement on the Rajasthan gag law
October 23, 2017

The Rajasthan ordinance prescribing a six-month embargo on the media from publishing any stories related to a complaint against a public servant pending sanction for investigation is a brazen assault on free speech to shield all those who abuse official powers, either to indulge in corruption or to violate human rights. The Foundation for Media Professionals calls upon the Vasundhara Raje government to withdraw the Bill introduced on October 23, 2017 to turn the controversial ordinance into a permanent law.

It is a crying shame that the very state that had sowed the seeds of the RTI movement across the country and the very chief minister who had, in her earlier avatar as a minister in the Vajpayee government, piloted the freedom of information Act, a forerunner of RTI, have now come up with gag provisions as part of the larger scheme of the ordinance and the Bill to increase impunity for public servants.

The gag provisions are a corollary of the criminal law amendments introduced in Rajasthan barring a magistrate from ordering an investigation against netas and babus till the government gives a go-ahead. The Foundation believes that both the impunity and gag provisions should be dropped forthwith as they are contrary not only to the public interest but also to the ruling party's much-touted promise of combating corruption and ensuring good governance.

That this is the most serious legislative attack on the media freedom since the ill-fated 1988 defamation Bill of the Rajiv Gandhi government is evident from its provision imposing punishment with imprisonment up to two years for anybody who discloses the identity of the public servant while a complaint against him is awaiting sanction to launch the investigation.   

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, President

Manoj Mitta, Director

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