Raje govt’s ordinance on state officials, judges challenged in HC

RSTV Bureau

vasundhara_rajeVasundhra Raje government is facing an all-round criticism over the ordinance laying provision for a prior state government sanction to investigate both serving and former judges, magistrates and public servants for on-duty actions. Not just the principal opposition Congress but BJP’s own legislator has now opposed the ordinance.

The ordinance is now been challenged before the state High Court.

Congress lawmakers staged protest at the Rajasthan assmebly on Monday. Congress leader Sachin Pilot, leading his party in the protest, dubbed the ordinance as “undemocratic”.

It said under the proposed law, the media cannot report on accusations against magistrates and others until the prosecution gets the go-ahead from the sanctioning authority.

The Editors Guild of India too has expressed concerns over the ordinance and asked the Rajasthan government to withdraw it.

“The ordinance promulgated by the state government last month was ostensibly done to protect the judiciary and the bureaucracy against false FIRs,” the Guild said in its release.

“But in reality it is a pernicious instrument to harass the media, hide wrongful acts by government servants and drastically curb the freedom of the press guaranteed by the Constitution of India,” it said.

BJP leader Ghanshyam Tiwari also opposed the ordinance, saying it was “aimed to strangulate democracy” in the state. He has also written to Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria, saying he should see his letter as a form of political protest and urged him to reconsider the decision.

“The bill that you will introduce in the assembly in next few days will pave the way to form a law, which will shield the open loot of the chief minister, ministers and public servants,” Tiwari wrote in the letter.

In a strong worded criticism of his own government’s move, he said it will be a “dark day for democracy” when the bill will be introduced in the Rajasthan Assembly.

The state government, however, defended the ordinance which was moved today in the assembly, stressing it maintains a zero tolerance policy towards corruption. Gulab Chand Kataria told a press conference there was no provision in the ordinance which will weaken action against corrupt officers.

“The government maintains a zero tolerance policy towards corruption,” he said.

He said the only one aim of the ordinance is that people do not “misuse” section 156(3) to tarnish the image of honest officers by levelling baseless allegations.

It does not mean that cases will not be registered against erring public servants through courts. The sanctioning authority will have to ensure within 180 days whether a case has to be registered, he said.

(With inputs from PTI)