Rajasthan HC issues notices to Centre, state over controversial ordinance

Rajasthan HC issues notices to Centre, state over controversial ordinance

The Rajasthan High Court on Friday sent notices to the Centre and state government on seven petitions challenging a controversial criminal laws ordinance to protect judges and public servants in the state from being investigated without prior sanction.

A Division Bench headed by Justice Ajay Rastogi clubbed all the seven petitions for hearing and sought a reply from the Centre and state government.

The next hearing is on November 27.

The court also directed that a copy of the order be served to Advocate General Narpat Mal Lodha and Additional Solicitor General Rajdeepak Rastogi. The petition was argued by Rishabh Sancheti.

Senior Lawyer and one of the petitioners A K Jain told DH, "The Rajasthan High Court has sent a common notice to centre and state on basis of all petitions. All petitions have sought the quashing of the ordinance with the contention that it encourages corruption and bars media from the right of free speech."

The petitioners include Pradesh Congress Committee president Sachin Pilot and Aam Aadmi Party leader Poonam Chand Bhandari, People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Jain and others. 

In the litigation filed by PUCL, the Rajasthan government has been accused of violating Article 14 (equality before law) and Article 19 (1) (a) (freedom of speech and expression) by curtailing the powers of courts to order an investigation of complaints made against public servants, judges and magistrate.

The ordinance was tabled as a bill in the Rajasthan Assembly and has since been referred to a Select Committee.

However, it will remain valid until December 4.

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