With an aim to decriminalise politics, the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed constitution of special courts in each district of Bihar and Kerala for the trial of pending criminal cases against present and former MPs and MLAs.The direction came after the court was told that there are 4,122 criminal cases pending, some for over three decades, against sitting and former members of Parliament and legislative assemblies while 1,675 are against former lawmakers.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph passed the directions for setting up of special courts in every district of the two states and also sought reports from both Patna and Kerala high courts by December 14.The court also directed the special courts to take up life-term cases on a priority while hearing pending matters against MPs and MLAs.
Tuesday’s direction from the top court is a departure from its earlier focus on special courts in each state to try cases involving politicians. The apex court has asked each High Court to assign/allocate criminal cases involving former and sitting legislators to as many Sessions Courts and Magisterial Courts as each High Court may consider proper, fit and expedient and said, “Would be a more effective step instead of concentrating all the cases involving former and sitting legislators in Special Court(s) in the district.”
The court was hearing a PIL filed by lawyer and BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay seeking a life-time ban on politicians convicted in criminal cases.Senior advocate Vijay Hansaria who is assisting the court as amicus curiae in the case had filed the data received from states and high courts.As per the data, there are 264 cases in which trial has been stayed by high courts and in several cases, which have been pending since 1991, charges have not yet been framed.
Highlighting state-wise details of cases in which there has been delay of proceedings, the report said that in Uttar Pradesh all 992 cases have been transferred to the special court for MPs and MLAs at Allahabad, both heard by Sessions judge as well as Magistrate.In Andhra Pradesh, 38 out of total 109 cases and in Telangana 66 out of total 99 cases have been transferred to special courts headed by Sessions judges.