The Rajasthan High Court on Saturday issued a notice to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on a public interest litigation seeking criminal contempt proceedings against him, PTI reported.

A division bench of Justices MM Shrivastava and Ashutosh Kumar directed the chief minister to respond within three weeks.

A lawyer, Shivcharan Gupta, filed the petition in connection with Gehlot’s statement that there was “rampant corruption” in the judiciary. The chief minister’s comment caused outrage among the bar and lawyers’ associations in the state.

On Friday, thousands of lawyers held a one-day strike in Jodhpur to protest Gehlot’s statement, according to PTI.

Following widespread criticism, the chief minister issued a clarification on Thursday that the remark about corruption in the judiciary was not his “personal opinion” and that he has always respected and believed in the judiciary.

“What I said yesterday about the corruption of judiciary is not my personal opinion,” Gehlot posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “I have always respected and believed in the judiciary. From time to time, many retired Supreme Court judges and even retired chief justices have commented on corruption in the judiciary and expressed concern over it.”

The chief minister went on to say that he has never made any adverse comment even on names suggested for appointment by the High Court Collegium because of his faith in the judiciary. “I firmly believe that every citizen should respect and trust the judiciary,” he said. “This will strengthen democracy.”

Gehlot’s remarks

On Wednesday, the Rajasthan chief minister had said he had come across instances where lawyers wrote judgments for judges, who pronounced them without any alteration.

“Things are really very serious in our institutions, be it the lower judiciary or the higher judiciary. The countrymen should reflect on it,” he said.

The chief minister had asked: “What is happening in the judiciary? Whether lower or upper, the situation is very serious.”