The Maharashtra government, in a shocking move has amended a provision of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in which a citizen has to get written permission from the Speaker of the Assembly, if you want to lodge a FIR against a babu or a Neta. Voices to repeal it are only growing
So, the BJP promise of citizen inclusive governance has just been murdered in Maharashtra.
In a shocking and scandalous move, the Maharashtra Government has amended a provision of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), (156)(3) and 190, under which, no FIR can be registered against MLAs and bureaucrats without the approval of the speaker of Assembly, even if directed by a court!
Which clearly means that 57% of MLAs who have declared criminal cases against them in their affidavits before recent elections, are the first to be cozily protected by this amendment. Interestingly, Maharashtra has the dubious distinction of being the second highest state of having MLAs with criminal records, after Jharkhand.
According to analysis by Association for Democratic Reforms of affidavits submitted by MLAs from Maharashtra at the time of election in 2014, 165 (57%) of the MLAs had declared criminal cases. Out of these 51 (31%) MLAs had declared cases where charges had been framed.
In a press release issued by ADR, Maj.Gen. Anil Verma (Retd), Head, National Election Watch of ADR, states, "It is an unethical move which should be taken back immediately. This amendment directly encourages the politicians and bureaucrats to indulge in unlawful activities without any fear of getting caught, and on the other hand, it discourages the citizens to raise their voice against the powerful people. This is a direct attack on the basic principle of the Constitution, which is equality before the law. ‘’
What is laughable is that the government apparently has made this move because there are too many fake complaints being lodged against babus and netas, not realising that it is a reflection of the kind of bureaucrats and MLAs that we have. Verma questions, ``Now, the government says that without the sanction of the speaker, no FIR can be filed, but in most of the cases, evidence is collected after the lodging of an FIR. Without any evidence, on what basis will the government decide to approve or disapprove an FIR against any injustice done by politicians and bureaucrats? Everyone is equal in the eyes of law, but this amendment proves that everyone is not equal in the eyes of law. How is the court not capable enough to take action against someone? Does being a politician or bureaucrat make you above the law? ‘’
The press statement also quotes Professor Jagdeep Chhokar, founder member of Association for Democratic Reforms stating that, "This decision of the Maharashtra cabinet goes directly against Article 14 of the Constitution of India which guarantees 'equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws' to "any person within the territory of India.' This decision obviously gives 'greater protection' to MLAs and bureaucrats, and therefore makes them 'more equal' than ordinary citizens."
Association for Democratic Reforms has appealed to the Maharashtra government to repeal the amendments made in the CrPC as it goes against the basic tenet of the constitution i.e. equality before law and discourages common citizens to raise their voice against legislators and bureaucrats indulging in corrupt or unlawful activities.