Set up special courts for trial against politicians, says Supreme Court

By: | Published: November 2, 2017 2:56 AM

The apex court asked the Centre to frame a scheme for setting up of special courts on the lines of the fast track courts, exclusively for the speedy trial of cases pending against politicians.

Supreme Court, trial against politicians, special courts, Fast Track Courts, speedy trial of cases pending against politiciansThe Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to frame a scheme for setting up of ‘special courts,’ on the lines of the Fast Track Courts, exclusively for the speedy trial of cases pending against politicians. (Image: PTI)

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Centre to frame a scheme for setting up of ‘special courts,’ on the lines of the Fast Track Courts, exclusively for the speedy trial of cases pending against politicians. A bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi also directed the government to apprise it as to how many of the 1,581 cases involving MLAs and MPs, as declared by the politicians at the time of filing of their nominations during the 2014 elections, have been disposed of within one year and how many have ended either in conviction or acquittal of the accused. It also sought the details of criminal cases lodged against politicians from 2014 till date. “Between 2014 and 2017 (as on date) whether any further criminal case(s) has been lodged against any present or former legislator (MP/MLA) and, if so, the detail(s) thereof, including detail(s) with regard to the disposal of such case(s),” it said in its order.

A central scheme to give effect to the setting of special courts indicating the amount of funds that can be earmarked for setting up of special courts has to be laid before the court on December 13, the next date of hearing. It also granted two weeks time to the Election Commission of India to bring on record an affidavit showing the nature of cases wherein the power under Section 11 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 has been exercised in the past.

The directions came while hearing the public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, seeking life-long disqualification of MPs, and MLAs, who have been convicted for criminal offences. As of now, a lawmaker can be debarred for six years from contesting elections once he is convicted for heinous or moral offences. The apex court asked for such information after the Centre stated that decriminalisation of politics has to be done and it was not averse to setting up of special courts to try criminal cases/offences involving politicians and for utmost expeditious disposal of these matters.

Additional Solicitor General ANS Nadkarni also informed the bench that the recommendations of the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the Law Commission favouring life-time disqualification of politicians convicted in criminal cases was under the active consideration of the government. The ECI also supported the plea seeking life ban on politicians convicted in criminal cases and said they have already made recommendations on this to the Centre. The apex court had on July 12 pulled up the ECI for not taking a clear stand on a plea seeking barring of convicted politicians for life. The Centre, in its affidavit, had said the prayer seeking life-time bar on convicted lawmakers was not maintainable and the plea should be dismissed.

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