The Rajasthan High Court on Friday issued a notice to the central and state governments regarding the controversial ordinance which aims to protect public servants from being probed for on-duty action without prior government sanction.
The authoritarian order, the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance 2017, was promulgated in September.
In a huge blow to the state and central government, the court clubbed all seven writ petitions and Public Interest Litigations (PILs) against the ordinance, including the plea filed by Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot.
A.K. Jain is the advocate for one of the petitioners, Bhagwat Gour. He told IANS, “A division bench of Justice Ajay Rastogi and Deepak Maheshwari issued notice and asked for responses by November 27, the next date of hearing.”
The main contention of almost all petitions in the ordinance violates Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution. Article 14 provides for equality before the law, while Article 19 deals with protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech.
The Rajasthan government on Tuesday referred to a Select Committee the Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Bill.
As per rules, though the bill may have gone to the select committee, the ordinance is still implementable for six weeks, until December 5.
On Monday, ignoring criticism from various quarters, the BJP government headed by Vasundhara Raje tabled the bill in the Rajasthan assembly.
The bill seeks to protect serving and former judges, magistrates and public servants in the state from being investigated for on-duty action, without prior sanction. It also bars the media from reporting on such accusations till the sanction to proceed with the probe is given by the government.
After the bill was tabled, Manik Chand Surana, the Independent MLA in the house, termed it as a kaala kanoon (a black law), accused the government of trying to impose an undeclared emergency through it and asserted that the Opposition would not allow a debate without the President’s sanction.
The state government, through the ordinance, made amendments in the Criminal Procedure code, 1973, and Indian Penal Code, 1980, in September.
After the Bill was tabled, Independent MLA Manik Chand Surana opposed it through a point of order, arguing that there was no prior sanction of the President to the Bill which was circulated among the members on Sunday night.