SC clears decks for special courts to deal with cases against MPs, MLAs

SC clears decks for special courts to deal with cases against MPs, MLAs

The Supreme Court on Thursday approved the Centre's proposal to set up 12 special courts to deal with 1,571 criminal cases pending against MPs and MLAs.

It directed that these courts should start functioning from March 1, 2018, as fast-track courts.

A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Naveen Sinha ordered the Ministry of Finance to release Rs 7.8 crore, earmarked for setting up 12 special courts, to the state governments.

The court made it clear that the number of special courts is tentative and further directions would be issued as and when the exact number of cases are available.

It directed all the high courts to trace pending cases against MPs and MLAs and refer them to the special courts.

"We will direct the state governments to set up the special courts that must start functioning in a time-bound manner," the bench said.

The court listed the PIL filed by Delhi BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay for a ban on convicted politicians from contesting polls for further consideration on March 7.

Senior advocates Sidharth Luthra, Dinesh Dwivedi, Krishnan Venugopal and advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for the petitioner as well as intervenors, contended that the number of such special courts may not be sufficient.

To this, the bench said, "The courts are not the end. You say the number should be more. Let's not block it. Let it be set up, then we will see."

Under the scheme, Karnataka would get one special court to deal with criminal cases pending against 73 lawmakers.

Sankaranarayanan sought direction to the Election Commission to come out with the exact data about pending cases against sitting MPs and MLAs and how many cases were disposed of within a period of one year in compliance with the direction issued by the apex court on March 10, 2014.

He also submitted that several states would remain without any special courts if the number was not increased.

"It is the easiest thing to find fault. What they seem to be proposing is that they would club cases," the court said.

The bench allowed a plea by Additional Solicitor General A S Nadkarni, appearing for the Centre, to grant two months to collect the data.

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