Decoding Chhattisgarh’s New Law to Protect Journalists
RAIPUR: “The promise we made to our journalist friends has been fulfilled today,” said CG Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel as his Congress government on Wednesday passed the law to protect journalists.
Chhattisgarh Media Personnel Security Bill, 2023, was prepared in 2020 by a committee comprising Justices Aftab Alam and Anjana Prakash, and the chief minister’s advisor Ruchir Garg, among others.
With the crimes on the rise and reporting in Maoist-dominated areas being challenging the draft for the Chhattisgarh Media Personnel Security Bill, 2023, was prepared in 2020 by a committee comprising Justices Aftab Alam and Anjana Prakash, and the chief minister’s advisor Ruchir Garg, among others.
The Bill asks for the registration of all media persons with a broad classification of journalists, media institutions, and mass media, such as news gatherers, freelancers, trainees, and interns. The bill proposes to set up a committee within 90 days of its notification to look into complaints of harassment of journalists. A penalty of Rs 25,000 has been labeled against a private person responsible for violence, harassment, or intimidation of a media person.
Under the bill, a committee will be constituted under a chairperson who will be a retired administrative or police officer not below the rank of secretary. The board will comprise 3 media persons with an experience of 10 years with one being a woman and two senior government officials.
The committee shall have the same powers throughout the state as are vested with the civil court while trial of a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908). The committee shall have the power to recommend emergency protection measures and protection plans to the Superintendent of Police (SP) of the district concerned, who in turn will take appropriate decisions as per law.
It also notes that any public servant who wilfully neglects duties in implementing the legislation shall be fined. In case of false complaints by the media personnel, the complainant will have to pay a fine of Rs 10,000 for the second time while they will be exempted from the penalty for the first time.
A website will be created where information about the registered media persons, complaints received, and action taken will be available. An authority will be prescribed to deal with appeals against the actions of the committee.