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Monday, Oct 21, 2019

Rajasthan high court issues notices to Centre, state on ‘gag’ ordinance

It was pointed out in the court that FIRs were not registered in two cases one and media did not report about them because of the controversial ordinance.

jaipur Updated: Oct 27, 2017 17:39 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
The Vasundhara Raje government in Rajasthan had promulgated the ordinance on September 7 and remains in force for six weeks.
The Vasundhara Raje government in Rajasthan had promulgated the ordinance on September 7 and remains in force for six weeks. (Raj K Raj/HT FILE PHOTO)

The Rajasthan high court on Friday issued notices to the Centre and the state government on the controversial ordinance that shields public servants promulgated in by the Vasundhara Raje government on September 7.

The court sought responses from the state and the Centre by November 27.

A division bench of justices Ajay Rastogi and Deepak Maheshwari issued the notices on seven petitions against the ordinance, which prohibits probe without prior sanction of the government against a judge, magistrate or a public servant while discharging official duties.

It also bars the media from reporting on the accused until prosecution sanction is given by the authority, which may take up to six months.

The petitions have been filed by state Congress president Sachin Pilot, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), People’s Union for Civil Liberties, activist Bhagwat Gaur, advocate Srijna Shrestha, activist Om Prakash and Atri Kumar Dadhich, a freelance journalist, seeking quashing of the ordinance.

Advocate A K Jain, who represented Gaur in the HC, told HT that since Pilot’s petition was listed first, the court asked his advocate to cite instances where a case was not filed because of the order.

He was unable to reply, but Jain then cited two cases — one against a senior Jaipur administration official and another against a civic body — where the court couldn’t order filing of FIR as there was no sanction and there has been no reporting of the cases in the media because of the ordinance.

The ordinance was promulgated on September 7 and remains in force for six weeks.

The government had tabled the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance 2017 in the assembly on Monday, but after widespread outrage, it was referred to a select committee.

The government said the order aims to protect officials from frivolous cases aimed at defaming them and preventing them from discharging official duties.

Pilot, who filed the petition on Thursday, said, “We have urged the court to direct the Rajasthan government to withdraw the ordinance. By introducing such ordinance, the government is violating Articles 14 (right to equality), 19 (freedom of speech), and 21 (protection of life and liberty) of the Constitution.”

Advocate Poonamchand Bhandari, who filed a petition on behalf of the AAP, said the ordinance had been brought in to shield “corrupt” bureaucrats.

First Published: Oct 27, 2017 17:26 IST

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