In its Assembly Election manifesto in November 2018, the Chattisgarh’s ruling Congress party had promised journalists a law within 100 days if it came to power. In light of the same, a committee headed by former Supreme Court justice Aftab Alam has sought public comment on a draft Bill to safeguard media persons in Chhattisgarh from harassment, intimidation and violence. For this, he will be visiting Raipur, Ambikapur and Bastar from November 16 to 18 to take suggestions from local journalists, media groups and the general public. The draft committee was set up in March to draft a law to foster a conducive atmosphere for journalists to perform their work fearlessly, the State government said in a statement.
The draft Chhattisgarh Protection of Mediapersons Act proposes that within 30 days of enactment of the law: “the government shall constitute a Committee for the Protection of Mediapersons to deal with complaints of harassment, intimidation or violence, or unfair prosecution and arrests of media persons”.
The State-level committee would comprise a police officer not below the rank of the Additional Director General of Police, Head of the Department of Public Relations, three media persons of at least 12 years’ standing each, at least one of whom should be a woman.
In case an official wilfully neglects duties stipulated by the Act, he could be punished with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to one year. And the offences, cognizable but bailable, would be investigated by a police officer not below the rank of a Deputy Superintendent of Police.
At the district-level, the Collector would head a Risk Management Unit. On receipt of a complaint, a member would have to immediately relay it to the Collector or the Superintendent of Police. Emergency protection measures would be put in place and within 24 hours, the unit would decide on further protection measures based on the threat perception.
According to the draft Bill, “Person Who Requires Protection” means all registered media persons facing threats of harassment, intimidation or violence and includes other persons facing such threats on account of their connection with the registered media person.
Tags : Chattisgarh, Congress, Journalist