Set up special courts for tainted politicians: SC

'Can solve criminalisation of politics'

Set up special courts for tainted politicians: SC

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Union government to set up special courts for “utmost expeditious disposal” of cases involving politicians.

It said the problem of criminalisation of politics can be solved by setting up special courts under a central scheme, on the lines of fasttrack courts.

“This would be in the interest of the nation,” a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha said, while directing the Union government to present within six weeks a scheme, including allocation of funds for such courts, to try politicians exclusively.

Hearing a PIL for a lifetime ban on convicted politicians, the court accepted a plea by Additional Solicitor General A S Nadkarni, representing the Union government, that the Centre was not averse to setting up special courts to conduct expeditious trial of cases against politicians, MPs and MLAs.

The court was informed that as many as 1,581 cases involving MPs and MLAs were pending, as per the election affidavits filed by candidates in 2014.

It directed the Union government to place on record as to how many of those cases were disposed of within a period of one year as per a previous direction of the apex court on March 10, 2014, or resulted in conviction and acquittal and reasons thereof.

It also sought to know how many other cases were registered against former and sitting MPs and MLAs between 2014 and 2017.

Nadkarni submitted that the court should also ask states to spell out their stand as they would be required to set up the special courts. He said 1,000 more courts would have to be set up. This would help in improving the judge-population ratio, too, he added.

The court, however, said, “Without further going into the controversy, the problem can be solved by setting up special courts under the central scheme to deal with cases involving politicians on the lines of fasttrack courts, which were formed by the central government for a period of five years and extended further.”

The court directed the Centre to place the complete scheme, pertaining to availability of requisite funds, before it.

The bench said the issue of appointment of judicial officers, public prosecutors, court staff and other such requirements of manpower and infrastructure, which would depend on the availability of funds from the Centre, would be dealt with by interacting with the state governments, if required.

It put the matter for further consideration on December 13. The court also asked the Election Commission to tell by an affidavit within two weeks showing the nature of cases wherein it has used its power under Section 11 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, to remove or reduce the period of disqualification.

The Election Commission, represented by senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, supported the plea made in the PIL by Delhi BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay for a lifetime ban for politicians from contesting elections.

The Centre, however, opposed the plea for a lifetime ban, while maintaining that it would endorse all steps for decriminalisation of politics. The petitioner, along with others, has challenged the validity of a disqualification period of six years for convicted persons from contesting polls after serving the sentence.

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