'Try cases against lawmakers in jurisdictional courts'

'Try cases against lawmakers in jurisdictional courts'

SC order for deciding cases in one year hardly complied with

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered that criminal cases pending against sitting and former MPs and MLAs should be decided by as many sessions and magisterial courts as determined by the high courts, in order to ensure speedy trial.

"That would be a more effective step instead of concentrating cases in one special court in each district," the top court said.

After being told that as many as 4,122 cases are pending against present and former legislators across the country, a bench presided over by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said, "Instead of one special court in each district as suggested by the amicus curiae, we request high courts to allocate the cases to as many courts as it may deem proper, fit and expedient."

Send back cases 

The bench, also comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph, said for now, the cases that were transferred to special courts in states of Kerala and Bihar should be sent back to jurisdictional courts or the courts concerned in each district, on a pilot basis to address the issue of criminalisation of politics.

“Rest of the special courts already set up shall continue to work and try cases assigned to them until further orders are passed in this regard,” the bench said.

The court asked the high court of Patna (Bihar) and that of Kerala to submit a report by December 14, the next date of hearing, indicating in how many cases charge sheet have been filed, charges framed and the progress of trial.

It also directed that the offences punishable with imprisonment for life or death against sitting and former MPs and MLAs be taken up on priority.

After directing setting up of 12 special courts across the country, the apex court decided to try the new proposition. This decision was prompted by a report filed by amicus curiae, senior advocate Vijay Hansaria, which stated that as many as 2,324 cases were pending against sitting and former lawmakers in the country.

The report also indicated the apex court's order of March 10, 2014 for deciding cases against the lawmakers within one year of framing charges was hardly complied with. Shockingly, some of the cases were pending for more than three decades, the report stated. The delay was due to stay granted by the higher courts, it said.

It also pointed out, in 4,122 cases charges have not yet been framed. As many as 430 cases involving life sentence were pending against sitting as well as former legislators.

UP tops list 

With 992 cases, Uttar Pradesh topped the list for pending cases against MPs and MLAs, both former and sitting. In Karnataka, 161 cases are pending. Of these, two are against current MPs and 95 against sitting MLAs.

Hansaria was appointed as amicus curiae in a PIL filed by advocate and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay. He said instead of sending those cases to one special court, there should be one designated sessions court and one magisterial court in each district, as witnesses and accused come from far off places.