New Delhi, Nov 1 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Central government to set up special courts to exclusively try lawmakers and politicians facing criminal cases so that the trial in such cases is expedited and completed in one year.
The bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Navin Sinha gave the government six weeks’ time to place before it the scheme for setting up of such fast track courts and the finances that would be involved for its implementation.
The court sought the government frame a scheme for setting up of such courts exclusively to deal with criminal cases involving political persons on the lines of the Fast Track Courts which were set up for a period of five years but extended, though now the scheme stands discontinued.
“A scheme to give effect to the above may be laid before the Court on the next date fixed indicating the amount of funds that can be earmarked for setting up of Special Courts …”, the court said in its order as it took on record the statement by Additional Solicitor General Atmaram Nadkarni that “the Union Government would not be averse to setting up of Special Courts to try criminal cases/offences involving political persons and for utmost expeditious disposal of the same”.
The court also sought the status of the trial in 1,581 cases involving elected representatives and the outcome where the trial has concluded.
“How many of 1,581 cases involving Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and Members of Parliament (MPs) (as declared at the time of filing of the nomination papers to the 2014 elections) have been disposed of within the time frame of one year” (as directed by the top court’s March 10, 2014 order), it asked.
It sought details on how many of these which have been finally decided have ended in acquittal or conviction of MPs and MLAs, as the case may be, while also calling for details of the fresh criminal cases filed since 2014 involving politicians and the sitting lawmakers, their stage of trial and the outcome if the trial has concluded.
Directing that the scheme for such special courts be placed before it on the next date of hearing, the court said that this would would include the appointment of Judicial Officers, Public Prosecutors, court staff and other such requirement of manpower and infrastructure at the expense of the central government.
It said that after the scheme is placed before it, if required, it would interact with the representatives of the respective state governments.
The court also asked the Election Commission to file an affidavit stating in how many cases, in exercise of its powers under Section 11 of the Representation of the People Act, 195, it has reduced the period of disqualification of a convicted lawmaker.
It gave Election Commission two weeks to file affidavit as the poll panel said that it exercised its power under this only once – way back in 1977.
The court order came while hearing a PIL by an advocate and BJP leader Ashwani Kumar Upadhyay seeking lifetime ban on convicted lawmakers and setting up of special courts for trying lawmakers accused of criminal offences.
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