Special Courts For MPs/MLAs: SC Seeks Response From HC Registrars, Chief Secys Of States Yet To Give Info [Read Order]
“The Chief Secretaries and High Court Registrar Generals of the states which have not provided any information shall provide complete information before the next date of hearing..we also make it clear that we will closely monitor the compliance of our orders”: SC bench headed by justice Ranjan Gogoi.
Dissatisfied with a poor response on its queries regarding setting up of fast-track courts to try MPs and MLAs facing criminal charges, the Supreme Court today directed Chief Secretaries and Registrar General of HCs of 18 states to furnish “complete information” by October 12.
“Other than Delhi which has set up two courts and Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Kerala, Karnataka Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal information from other states have not been received. The position which emanates from above is that the following states have not given any information sought. We direct Chief secretaries of the aforementioned states as well as Registrar Generals of High Courts to lay before us complete information. We also specifically direct the two authorities to lay before us a precise number of cases presently pending to be transferred to special courts. We also make it clear that we will closely monitor compliance of our orders”, a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi, Navin Sinha and K M Joseph said in the order.
At the outset, advocate Sajan Povayya who appeared for petitioner Supreme Court advocate and BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyaya submitted that centre was unable to get requisite information from the state and had filed an incomplete and sketchy affidavit and it did not have most of the information the bench had sought on the last date of hearing.
In the latest affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, the Centre has sought a direction from the court to the High Courts and the State Government to submit information pertaining to the number of cases involving legislators that have been transferred to Special Courts, and other data on such Courts.
The Affidavit stated that despite Centre’s “very sincere and painstaking efforts” to comply with the Court’s directions, several High Courts and States have not provided it with requisite data and information on the queries posed by it.
The Affidavit now informed the Court that two Special Courts are to be established in NCT of Delhi, and one each in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh.
Requisite notifications, it said, have been issued by all State Governments in this regard.It further informed the Court that out of the twelve Special Courts, six have been set up at the Sessions Court level and five at the Magistrate level, and that the class of the Court in Tamil Nadu has not been indicated.
On August 30 the bench expressed unhappiness over the Centre not giving an answer as to the number of criminal cases pending against MPs and MLAs in various courts despite repeated directions and deferred the hearing on PIL seeking fast-track courts to next week.
“The government is compelling us to pass certain orders which we do not want at this stage. The union of India is unprepared. We express our anguish”, a bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi, Navin Sinha and K M Joseph said as the government did not have any specific answer in its counter affidavit regarding the number of cases pending in each fast-track court already set up
M Pandey, a top official of the Law and Justice ministry merely said in an affidavit: “This department is regularly taking up the matter with the concerned authorities for furnishing the information regarding the cases transferred/disposed/pending in the said courts” and only furnished a chart of communications and not the number of cases.
The PIL was filed by BJP leader and SC Advocate Ashwini Upadhyay.
On August 21 the last date of hearing, the Supreme Court bench had directed the Centre to expedite setting up of special courts to exclusively try legislators-MPs and MLAs against whom criminal cases are pending and file a status report by August 28 specifying the number of cases pending before the already set up courts.
The bench asked the government to inform it about the number of cases pending before each of these special courts, along with the break-up of magisterial and sessions triable cases there.
The government earlier submitted to the court that 1,581 cases were pending against legislators across the country.
To begin with, the Centre had in December last year said 12 special courts would be set up which was to get functional from March 1.
The Supreme Court had in March 2014 unequivocally put trials of MPs and MLAs in criminal cases, that attract punishment of two years or more, on a stopwatch. Just one year from the framing of the charge and that’s it – a chargesheeted lawmaker must face the verdict within that period.
SC asked the Centre to inform the court whether these special courts were courts of sessions or magisterial courts and also provide details of their territorial jurisdiction.
It also asked the government whether it intended to set up additional special courts over and above the courts already set up.
The bench said these details should be placed before it and posted the matter for further hearing today.
Read the Order Here