The draft of a proposed legislation to prevent attacks on journalists in the state was approved by the state cabinet in its meeting on Thursday evening.
The Patrakar Halla Virodhi Kriti Samiti (Committee Against Attacks on Journalists) had been pushing for such an Act for the past 12 years. The nod by the state cabinet comes in the wake of the attack on DNA Special Correspondent Sudhir Suryawanshi, and it was also prompted by past attacks on other journalists who received threats from groups with vested interest.
The Bill will be tabled in both the Houses of the state legislature on Friday, the last day of the ongoing budget session.
It was after journalist J Dey’s murder that voices were raised for providing protection to journalists by introducing legislation. Former Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil had assured a convention of the Marathi Patrakar Parishad that his government would introduce such legislation. A committee under former chief minister Narayan Rane was instituted to introduce the legislation.
After the attack on Suryawanshi, the presiding officer had directed the state government to make a statement in the House after Congress MLC Anat Gadgil raised the issue.
PROVISIONS OF THE BILL
- The Bill seeks to make attacks on journalists a non-bailable offence.
- Permanently employed journalists, as well as those on contract, will be covered.
- The attacker will have to pay a fine and also foot the medical bill of the victim.
- Misuse of the law by journalists will also attract punishment.
- The Bill will be introduced in the ongoing Budget session.