AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court pulled up the authorities on Monday for externing a citizen from eight districts for calling up Godhra MLA CK Raolji’s son and questioning him about the MLA’s work.
Staying the externment imposed on Pravinbhai Charan, Justice Paresh Upadhyay sought an explanation from the sub-divisional magistrate and the MLA. The judge said such action was unacceptable. “We do not run kingdoms. We are a democratic republic. Is this a republic in which a citizen cannot question his elected representative? Externment orders are passed upon doing so?” The court questioned the “atrocity” committed against people at large.
Charan was booked in June this year by the Panchmahal police for calling Raolji’s son, Malavdeepsinh, on the phone and telling him that the MLA was not doing his work. He was accused of issuing death threats. The government tried to defend the preventive measure by citing the alleged threat. To this, the court said, “If so, the government can put him behind bars, but externment?” The judge added, “If somebody expresses his grievance before the MLA, then file an FIR? This should be stopped. Today, the person is externed for seeking an account of an MLA’s work. It is confirmed that if you don’t vote for me, you will be externed... only one step away from doing so (sic).”
The SDM based his externment order on three FIRs lodged against Charan since 2017, the immediate cause being the complaint filed by the MLA’s son. The HC said the SDM needed to be immediately shifted from his position because he did not work as a custodian of the people’s trust but as custodian of a politician’s interests. “You want to send a loud and clear message that you do not call the MLA’s son and ask about the MLA’s performance,” the judge said.
The court also issued notice to the MLA by making him a respondent. The court said it was impleading the MLA, and not his son, in order to question him on whether he approved of such practices.