Mumbai, Apr 1 (PTI) A bill to prevent attacks on journalists will be introduced in the ongoing Budget session of the Maharashtra Legislature, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced in the state Legislative Assembly today.

“The draft of the bill regarding attacks on journalists is ready and we plan to introduce it in the ongoing session of the state Legislature,” he said.

The session is scheduled to conclude on April 7.

Fadnavis made the statement while replying to a discussion in the lower house over the debate on a bill to amend the Indian Penal Code and CrPC Act, seeking to enhance the punishment for attacking public servants from the present three years to five years imprisonment and making the offence cognisable and non-bailable.

Fadnavis had yesterday introduced the bill in the Assembly.

Despite the BJP and Sena members taking objection to the bill that proposes to amend provisions of the IPC and CrPC, the Chief Minister told the House that that the purpose of the bill was not to support ineffective government officials, but those who were genuine and honest and were target of corrupt contractors and sand mafia.

“I assure you on the floor of the House that if any loopholes are found, suitable amendments would be made in the Monsoon session in July,” he said.

Fadnavis said the scope of the term ‘hurt’ is well defined and there is no room for any misuse of the law. “In majority of cases, public servants are attacked by corrupt contractors and sand mafia, while the number of attacks by politicians and general public are negligible.” “There is a need to enhance the punishment, as presently the accused in such cases can get bail easily. The need of the hour is to ensure that honest officials work efficiently,” he said.

“Wrongdoings of public servants will not be protected.

However, genuine and honest public servants need to be protected,” he added.

As per the bill, sections 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty) and 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) will be amended and to be made punishable up to five years of imprisonment from the present three years, fine or both. The bill seeks to make the offences cognisable and non bailable.

Members of the ruling parties, including BJP MLA Ashish Shelar and Shiv Sena legislator Chandradeep Narke, earlier today took objection to the Bill. Sena members Jayprakash Mundada and Shambhuraje Desai had also demanded the bill be postponed till next week for a detailed debate.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.