NEW DELHI: Politicians across the nation are facing criminal trials in 4,442 cases and of these, sitting MPs and MLAs are undertrials in as many as 2,556 such matters, the data provided by all the High Courts to the Supreme Court has revealed.
The top court, hearing pleas to consider the issue of speedy disposal of criminal cases against elected representatives to Parliament and state legislatures, including former MPs and MLAs, had directed Registrar Generals of all the High Courts to furnish information regarding pending cases against lawmakers.
"The reports submitted by all High Courts show that there are total number of 4,442 cases pending, out of which in 2,556 cases sitting legislators are accused persons. Trial in 352 cases are held up due to stay granted by higher courts," said the report, compiled and tabulated by amicus curiae and senior advocate Vijay Hansaria.
"In 2,556 cases sitting legislators are accused persons. The number of legislators involved are more than total number of cases since there are more than one accused in one case, and the same legislator is an accused in more than one case," the 25-page affidavit said.
The report was filed in pursuance of an order passed by the top court on a PIL of BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay.
The plea has sought speedy trial of criminal cases against sitting and former lawmakers.
Hansaria, in the affidavit, also provided the state-wise list of cases in which trials are stopped due to the stay orders of the superior courts.
"Trial of 352 cases have been stayed by the High Court and this Hon'ble Court. 413 cases relate to offences punishable with life imprisonment, out of which 174 cases sitting legislators are accused," it said.
As per the report, Uttar Pradesh tops the chart where there are 1,217 pending cases against lawmakers, of which sitting legislators are accused in 446 such matters.
In Bihar, there are 531 cases, out of which in 256 cases sitting legislators are accused, it said.
Many cases are registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, the Arms Act, the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and the defamation under section 500 IPC, it said.
The Amicus Curiae has also given various suggestions to the court for ensuring speedy trials in cases involving politicians.
Suggesting special courts in every district for MPs/MLAs, it said, the high courts should be monitoring such cases.
"Each High Court shall register a Suo Motu case with the title 'In Re:Special Courts for MPs/MLAs' to monitor the progress of cases pending in the State and ensure compliance of directions of thie Court," the affidavit suggested.
"Each High Court may be directed to assign/allocate criminal cases involving former and sitting legislators to as many Sessions Courts and Magisterial Courts as the respective High Courts may consider proper, fit and expedient having regard to the number and nature of pending cases. Such decisions may be taken by the High Courts within four weeks of the order," it said.
It suggested that special courts should give priority to the trial of cases in offences punishable with death or life imprisonment.
Then the offences punishable with imprisonment for seven years or more can be fast tracked, it said.
"Cases involving sitting legislators to be given priority over former legislators," it suggested, adding "Forensic laboratories will give priority in furnishing the report in respect of cases being tried by the Special Courts and will submit all pending reports within one month."
The top court had passed the order directing that "in relation to sitting MPs and MLAs who have charges framed against them for the offences which are specified in Sections 8(1), 8(2) and 8(3) of the RP Act, the trial shall be concluded as speedily and expeditiously as may be possible and in no case later than one year from the date of the framing of charge(s)."
In such cases, as far as possible, the trial shall be conducted on a day-to-day basis, it said.
If for some extraordinary circumstances the court concerned is not able to conclude the trial within one year from the date of framing of charge, it would submit the report to the Chief Justice of the respective High Court indicating special reasons for not adhering to the time limit and delay in conclusion of the trial, it ordered.
In such situation, the Chief Justice of the High Court may issue appropriate directions to the court concerned extending the time for conclusion of the trial, the top court had ordered.