Sunny Sebastian

JAIPUR: A city magistrate in Barmer who acted suo moto the other day to issue summons to an MLA in connection with the ongoing controversy over the members calling names one another in the Rajasthan Assembly has been removed from the post and kept on APO (awaiting posting order) by the Rajasthan High Court, Jodhpur. The Assembly witnessed a furore over the issue on Thursday when the ruling Congress members termed the magistrate’s act as a breach of privileges of both the member and the House.

Hari Kishan Goswami, Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Barmer had taken cognizance on the reported statement made by Congress MLA Raghu Sharma in the Assembly three days back to issue a summon to the latter after reading a newspaper report.

“By reading the newspaper one gains the impression that former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who is a woman, has been humiliated and an attempt has been made to interfere in her private life and this has been done by a legislator who makes laws,” Mr. Goswami, in his order stated. “By reading the newspaper it appears that on Mrs. Vasundhara Raje, a woman, a charge of drinking liquor has been made, which even if is true, should not have been made public. Mr.Raghu Sharma, MLA, neither cared for the (sanctity) of the Assembly nor for (decorum of) society before levelling such a charge,” he said in his order.

“The newspaper, dated July 15, indicates that the Assembly has taken no action (in this regard). Because of that, in such matters, the intervention of the judiciary is necessary. In my humble opinion it is necessary that Mr.Raghu Sharma be summoned to the court,” Mr.Goswami said. Dr. Sharma’s action prima facie warranted a case against him under Sections 500 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code, the magistrate noted. As the newspaper report clearly indicated Dr. Sharma “misbehaving” with Ms.Vasundhara Raje, the court said it does not find it necessary to get the permission of the Assembly or the Government for initiating action.

The three-line High Court order, issued by K.C.Joshi, Registrar General, did not give any reason for the action. It said: “Shri Hari Kishan Goswami, Additional Civil Judge (Sr.Dn) and Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Barmer is kept under awaiting posting orders with his headquarter at Rajasthan High Court, Jodhpur with immediate effect”.

The Assembly witnessed uproar from the Congress members while the BJP members tried to play down the matter. “This is not an issue of any single member. It is a matter of privilege of the whole House,” Tourism Minister Bina Kak said at the outset.

The issue came up again at the end of the day after the groups decided to agree for a truce to end the ongoing impasse in the House when Transport Minister Braj Kishore Sharma and Industries Minister Rajendra Pareek sought the Speaker’s ruling on it. Deputy Leader of the Opposition Ghanshyam Tiwari and his colleague Rajendra Rathore promptly got up to point out that the procedures demanded prior notice for taking up the issue. Speaker Deependra Singh Shekhawat, while noting that the House could take up the issue even without prior notice, suggested keeping it for the next day.