Rajasthan High Court issues notice over ordinance that shields public servants
The government directed to submit a reply in four weeks.
Jaipur: The Rajasthan High Court on Friday issued show cause notices to the Rajasthan government and central governments over the controversial Criminal Laws Ordinance (2017) passed in defense of public servants.
The double bench of Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice Deepak Maheshwari heard the petitions filed by Rajasthan Congress state president Sachin Pilot, Aam Aadmi Party leader Poonam Chand Bhandari, advocate Bhagwat Gour, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, social activist Srijana Shreshth, and others. The petitions were filed arguing that the ordinance violates constitutional provisions and is “illegal.”
All seven petitions were clubbed together. Sachin Pilots petition was listed first when the case was opened. The ordinance issued by the Vasundhara Raje government has gained wide coverage and been heavily criticized. The court has asked the state to submit a reply in four weeks and listed the matter for November 27.
Under the provisions of this ordinance, the media cannot report on the accusation against such a public servant until the prosecution gets a green signal from the sanctioning government authority, which may take up to six months. The state government did table a Bill in Rajasthan Assembly on Monday, to replace the ordinance, however, it was referred to a Select Committee following intense criticism. The odinance though will be applicable for six weeks from October 23, when the bill was stabled.
The ordinance also prohibits investigation without prior sanction against “a Judge or a Magistrate or a public servant”, acting or former, for any “act done by them while acting or purporting to act in the discharge of their official duties.” If it is passed, it will amend the CrPC and IPC. Section 228 B will be added under the amendment. Whereas as per laws under section 156 (3) of CrPC a report can be filed seeking help of the Court. This section will also come scrutiny if the ordinance is passed.
The ordinance is an amendment to the Criminal Code of Procedure, 1973 and also seeks to curb publishing and printing or publicising, in any case, the name, address, photograph, family details of the public servants. Violating the ordinance will result in a punishment of two years of imprisonment.