The Vasundhara Raje-led Rajasthan government has come out with an ordince that would warm the cockles of a corrupt babu’s heart and make his counterparts in other States go green with envy. It prevents the courts from taking up private complaints against both serving and former judges, magistrates and public servants in Rajasthan from being investigated for on-duty action, without the government’s prior sanction. No public servant during service tenure is liable for questioning for any decision or action in the course of duty (except under the relevant section of crimil procedure code), no FIR can be lodged against him, no magistrate can order a probe against him, nor can anyone move the court against him. So unless the mai-baap sarkar permits, an aggrieved citizen can get no redress against a babu guilty of a fault, acts high-handed, abuses his authority or demands a bribe outright! The ordince also seeks to bar the media from reporting on accusations till official sanction is forthcoming (within 180 days). Until that green sigl comes from the authorities, the media can neither me the babu, nor publicise his photograph or details like his official desigtion or address. Any violation will invite up to two years in jail. According to Rajasthan Home Minister Gulabchand Kataria, the ordince is necessary “to save the honest officer”. He argues that honest officials are “afraid to work, apprehending that someone would deliberately make a false complaint by trapping them”. Surely this is an extreme instance of a government going to ridiculous lengths to shield officials who are incompetent, shirk work or are outright corrupt. But the same mindset operates in many other State governments too, including in Assam — what with ministries and departments stonewalling RTI queries endlessly and withholding sanction to prosecute officials accused of graft.
Shielding the corrupt babu