NEW DELHI: To wipe out politicians who are facing criminal charges from contesting elections, the Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it will set up 12 special courts for faster disposal of 1,571 criminal cases pending against lawmakers for one year.
Filing the affidavit, Additional Secretary of the Union Ministry of Law and Justice Reeta Vasishta informed the bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi that the scheme envisages constitution of the courts for a period one year for now.
The affidavit states that the Ministry of Finance has approved Rs 7.8 crore to start these 12 courts. They are based on the 11th Finance Commission report, which found that one such court can dispose 165 cases per year, and suggested that trials in states with fewer than 65 cases can be completed in existing Fast Track Courts.
The ministry also states that the formation of the special courts will be done after detailed consultation with state governments on the basis of the number of pending trials there.
The aim of creating these special courts is to ensure that the politicians with criminal backgrounds are not able to delay trials, and those facing false cases get justice.
At present, a politician is disqualified immediately from contesting elections for six years if he/she is sentenced to a jail term of two years or more.
The affidavit came in the case while the court was hearing a PIL filed by state BJP spokesperson and advocate Ashwani Upadhyay. He sought the provisions of the Representation of People (RP) Act, which bars convicted politicians from contesting elections for six years after serving a jail term, should be declared as ultra vires to the constitution.
According to data submitted in the Court by NGO Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), affidavits by politicians at the time of submitting nomination papers for the 2014 general elections and Assembly polls had disclosed 1,581 cases were pending against them. Ten cases were later dropped due to the death of the politicians concerned.
The affidavit also sought some more time to compile nationwide data on pendency of criminal cases against elected representatives as on date and did not furnish data about any new criminal cases lodged against any present or former legislators between 2014 and 2017.
The affidavit also stated, “We had tried to get the information from the election watchdog, which expressed its inability to provide the data. Even the NGO that provided the figure did not have the information. Quarterly reports will be submitted in the top court which would also states as to how many criminal cases have been disposed of in one year.”
The government, which has opposed the life ban as demanded by the petitioner, said that the recommendations of the poll panel and the law commission were under active consideration.