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On National Press Day, Rajasthan Patrika protests with a blank editorial

The Hindi daily is protesting against the contoversial criminal law ordinance moved by Rajasthan govt that restricts freedom of the press

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

Hindi daily on Thursday left its blank, a bold move, which will be hard to ignore for the government. In view of the Press Day, which signifies the in the country, the carried absolutely no text inside a thick black border. 

A screenshot of Rajasthan Patrika's blank editorial
Voicing concern with no words, the is a mark of protest against the ordinance moved by the state government that restricts media rights while protecting government officials. 

What is the issue?

Despite criticism from various quarters, Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government in October tabled the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill in the Rajasthan assembly.

This bill 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 Rajasthan government through the aforementioned Bill, made amendments in Criminal Procedure code, 1973, and Indian Penal Code, 1980, in September this year.

The bill has certain prohibitory provisions to restrain the courts from ordering an investigation against a person, who is or was a judge or magistrate or a public servant, in respect of the act done by them during the discharge of their official duties.

Besides, no investigation will be conducted by any investigating agency against the persons specified without there being any prosecution sanction.

The sanctioning authority will have to take its decision within 180 days from the date of the receipt of proposal. The ordinance also provides that in absence of a decision within the stipulated time period, the sanction will be deemed to have been granted.

Why the protest?

The bill is also noted in the ordinance that no one shall print or publish or publicise in any manner the name, address, photographs, family details or any other particulars which may lead to disclosure of identity of a judge or magistrate or a public servant against whom proceedings under this section is pending until the sanction has been deemed to have been issued.

Whoever contravenes the provisions shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine.

This goes against Article 14 of the Constitution, which provides for equality before law, while Article 19 deals with protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech and Article 21 provides for protection of life and personal liberty.

The first time an Indian newspaper left its blank

An is probably the most important section in any newspaper as it not only gives in-depth details to users about prevalent issues but only reflects the stance of the newspaper.

During the infamous imposed by former prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1975, several citizens and establishments protested against the move.

English daily upped its ante against the government by leaving the section blank.

On 17 November, 2016, Nagaland followed a similar move as three papers, namely Morung Express, Eastern Mirror and Nagaland Page ran pages to protest against lack of freedom of speech.

First Published: Thu, November 16 2017. 15:02 IST