The Karnataka High Court on Monday put a stay on an order by the state government dropping 61 charges against Bharatiya Janata Party ministers and elected representatives, reported Live Law.

A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice Vishwajit Shetty were hearing a petition filed by People Union of Civil Liberties, Karnataka, challenging the August 31 order by the BS Yediyurappa government. It had granted permission to drop criminal prosecution charges under Section 321 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

“We direct that no further steps shall be taken on the basis of order dated August 31, 2020,” the court said, according to Live Law. The court directed the state government to file its objection by January 22. The matter will be heard next on January 29.

During a previous hearing of the case, the High Court had observed that a public prosecutor “cannot act like a post box or submit to the diktats of the government when the executive directs withdrawal of criminal cases against legislators”, Bar and Bench reported. It had further said that trial courts are not bound by such decisions of the government and it can apply its own mind and reject prayers for withdrawal of prosecution.

The order passed by the Karnataka government to rescind criminal cases against several BJP leaders also included one against the state’s Law Minister JC Madhuswamy and Tourism Minister CT Ravi, charged under Sections 143 (unlawful assembly) and 147 (rioting) of the Indian Penal Code. The case was related to a scuffle that broke out between students of two communities in Mysuru district’s Hunsur city in November 2015.

A separate case from 2017 that was withdrawn against Hospete MLA Anand Singh pertained to blocking of the taluk office by 300 locals after stone-pelting and vandalism. The incident had led to property damage of Rs 3 lakh. The political leader, who was then with the Congress, was accused of criminal intimidation, assault on a government official and obstruction of duty.