NEW DELHI: Close on the heels of the controversy surrounding the suicide by a jawan from Kerala, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MP Baijayant Panda sought to move a private member legislative proposal on taking steps to facilitate freedom of speech and expression of personnel of the Armed Forces.
The business agenda of the Lok Sabha on Friday had listed the private member bill by Panda, who claimed that “various reports and videos featuring jawans criticizing alleged institutional flaws in our armed forces and para-military forces have surfaced in past few months”. The Bill was not taken under consideration due to time constraint and it is likely to come before the House on Friday next week.
“Recent case of suicide by a jawan hailing from Kerala has brought into question our openness to his criticism and our ability to protect those who dissent. The media outlet recorded and published the interview of that jawan without his consent in spite of the fact that he reportedly had spoken on assurance of anonymity. Allegations have been made that the jawan was compelled to commit suicide due to harassment by superiors after featuring of the video,” read the preamble of the bill brought forth by Panda.
The bill desires that effective steps should be taken to guarantee security to dissenters and whistle blowers, besides facilitating freedom of speech and expression. The Bill also seeks that the media should play a prudent and responsible role in highlighting such issues and ensure ethical practice by exposing the identity of the alleged perpetrators. But the identity of alleged victims must be protected, the Bill seeks the House to agree upon as the objective of the legislative proposal.