The Maharashtra government today informed the Legislative Council that it will within a month's time prepare the draft Bill of the law to protect journalists after consulting Leaders of Opposition and group leaders of parties of both the Houses.
While speaking during the Calling Attention motion, Leader of Opposition Dhananjay Munde raised the issue of increasing instances of attacks on journalists recently and said that the issue of their security has become very serious.
"Recently, there was an attack on a female journalist when she went to cover a cylinder blast at Santacruz. Another journalist was killed while covering a bar raid in Mira road.
The attacks are slowly increasing and the issue of security of journalists has become very serious now. In how many days will the government formulate a law for protection of journalists?" Munde questioned.
In response, Minister of State for Home Ram Shinde said that during the previous government, a committee under then Industries minister Narayan Rane had been set up to formulate a law for the protection of journalists.
"The committee report was even submitted to the state cabinet but a discussion on the issue did not happen then. That committee had five cabinet ministers in it, yet, a law could not be formulated. Now, the state government will also study the report of the Rane committee before formulating a new law," Shinde said. He further said that the Director General of Police will be given fresh instructions on the security of journalists keeping in the view the increasing incidents of attacks on them.
"The draft of the Bill for protection of journalists will be ready within a month. Before that, we will hold a meeting with the LoPs and group leaders of political parties of both the Houses so that it can be discussed in detail," he said.
Munde then claimed that 265 journalists were attacked in the previous year and when asked to give information about it under the RTI, the government said that it does not have the number of journalists attacked.
"Cases of attacks on journalists are increasing by the day and hence a strict law is necessary. After coming up with a Bill, the government should issue a notification soon so that it can be converted into a law during the Winter session of the Assembly," Munde said.