Complete politicians' trials in a year: SC

Complete politicians' trials in a year: SC

The Supreme Court on Monday directed completion of trials involving sitting MPs and MLAs within a year of framing of charges.

A sitting MP or MLA stands disqualified as soon as he or she is held guilty of the offences specified under the Representation of People Act.

The apex court’s order would serve the twin purpose of timely disqualification of a lawmaker in case of conviction and at the same time secure the fundamental right of speedy justice to the accused. Taking up a PIL by an NGO — Public Interest Foundation — a bench of justices R M Lodha and Kurian Joseph said, “We accordingly direct that in cases of sitting MPs and MLAs, who have charges framed against them under offences of the Representation of People Act, the trials are concluded as speedy as possible and in no case later than one year from the date of framing of charges.”

The bench also directed that the trials in such cases must be conducted on a day-to-day basis. In case, the trials are not concluded within one year due to extraordinary circumstances, the court said, the trial judge should submit a report to the chief justice of the concerned high court, apprising him of the “special reasons” for the delay.

“It is observed that in such situations, the chief justice may issue appropriate directions to the concerned court for expediting the trial,” the court added.

During the hearing, the court asked Additional Solicitor General Paras Kuhad, appearing for the Centre to ensure augmented budgetary allocation for the judiciary to meet infrastructure requirement.

“We would want you (Centre) to have more funds so that there are more courts, more judges and sufficient infrastructure. Speedy justice is an important facet of Article 21 (right to life and liberty). We think all trials should be completed within one year and cases of MPs and MLAs are not seen as exception. Till we can do that, we should start from somewhere at least,” it remarked.

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