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Rajasthan HC issues notice to Centre, state on Immunity Ordinance

The Rajasthan High Court on Friday issued notices to the Centre and the state government on writ petitions challenging the controversial ordinance that protects serving and former judges and public servants from being investigated for on-duty action without prior sanction of the state government.

The next hearing in the case is scheduled on November 27.

A bench comprising justices Ajay Rastogi and Deepak Maheswari heard the seven writ petitions including by Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot, AAP leader Poonam Chand Bhandari and NGO People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), seeking quashing of the ordinance.

The counsel for the petitioners contended that the ordinance restricted the freedom of media and amounted to violation of the right to free speech.

“The court has served notices to the Centre and the state government. The matter is scheduled for hearing on November 27, A K Jain, counsel of petitioner Bhagwat Gaur, said.

He said that arguing in the court, the counsel for the petitioners took exception to the new provision for punishment for disclosure of a public servant’s identity until the sanction for investigation and prosecution is given.

The Criminal Laws (Rajasthan Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 was promulgated by the state government on September 7 and a bill to replace it was tabled in the Rajasthan Assembly on October 23. It was then referred to the select committee of the House.

The Vasundhara Raje government has attracted criticism from various quarters for the ordinance, which provided six- month immunity to both serving and former public servants, judges and magistrates from any investigation without prior sanction from the state government.

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