14 Sep 2023 1:06 PM GMT
Senior Advocate Vijay Hansaria, the amicus curiae appointed by the Supreme Court in the matter relating to criminal cases against elected representatives (MPs/MLAs) in his 19th report has suggested a string of directions to be issued for expeditious disposal of such cases. The suggestions of the amicus in his latest report include, calling for monthly reports from Special Court set up...
Senior Advocate Vijay Hansaria, the amicus curiae appointed by the Supreme Court in the matter relating to criminal cases against elected representatives (MPs/MLAs) in his 19th report has suggested a string of directions to be issued for expeditious disposal of such cases.
The suggestions of the amicus in his latest report include, calling for monthly reports from Special Court set up for disposal of cases against MPs/MLAs to the High Courts regarding reasons for delay in cases pending for more than five years and any difficulties faced in the concluding the trial in such cases. The Amicus has also suggested that High Courts create a separate section on their websites regarding pending cases against MPs/MLAs.
The Supreme Court has been monitoring expeditious disposal of criminal cases against MPs and MLAs since 2016 in a PIL filed by Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.
In October 2022, the Supreme Court had directed all the High Courts to place on record the number of criminal cases pertaining to MPs/MLAs which are pending for a period in excess of five years, the number of judges allocated to conduct the trials; the case load per judge; and the steps taken to ensure the expeditious disposal of these cases.
Pursuant to this, various High Courts furnished details of the pending cases. The Amicus has tabulated the State wise position of pending cases in his latest report. According to the data tabulated by the amicus, the State of Uttar Pradesh has recorded the most number of cases against elected representatives followed by the State of Bihar. As of November 2022, the number of such cases in UP is 1377, out of 719 have been pending for over 5 years. In Bihar, 546 such cases are pending as of November 2022, out of 381 have been pending for over 5 years.
Tables showing pendency of criminal cases against MPs/MLAs in States/UTs.Uttar Pradesh has the most pending cases against MPs and MLAs. As of November, 2022, 1377 cases against politicians.Table compiled by amicus curiae based on reports of HCs submitted in #SupremeCourt pic.twitter.com/Z2JTTKwa5x— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) September 13, 2023
Tables showing pendency of criminal cases against MPs/MLAs in States/UTs.Uttar Pradesh has the most pending cases against MPs and MLAs. As of November, 2022, 1377 cases against politicians.Table compiled by amicus curiae based on reports of HCs submitted in #SupremeCourt pic.twitter.com/Z2JTTKwa5x
In his 17th report dated 14.11.2022, the Amicus had pointed out that 5,097 cases are pending against MPs/MLAs out of which more than 40% i.e. 2,122 cases are pending for more than 5 years.
The Amicus had sought for various directions in his 17th report including expeditious trial of cases using technology for examination of witnesses and appearance of the accused persons. The Amicus in the said report had suggested that in case the accused delays the trial, his/her bail should be cancelled; and in case prosecution does not cooperate, a report may be sent to the Chief Secretary of the State. He had also suggested that cases involving sitting legislators be given priority over former legislators.
In his latest report dated 13.09.2023, keeping in mind the previous orders of the Apex Court on the matter and the registration of suo motu Writ Petitions by various High Courts, has made the following additional suggestions:
a. The Special Court MP/MLAs may be directed to furnish monthly reports of pendency and disposal of cases to the High Courts and reasons for delay of cases pending for more than five years. The Presiding Officer of Special Court may also indicate difficulties,if any, faced in the expeditious disposal of cases.
b. The Special Court MP/MLAs shall conduct trials in terms of section 309 Cr.P.C. and more particularly in terms of fourth proviso thereto and the interim orders passed from time to time in the present case.
c. The Principal Sessions Judge of each district shall take into account number of cases pending before the Special Court MP/MLA while allotting other cases to the said Court.
d. The High Courts in the suo motu writ petitions registered in terms of the order dated 16.09.2020 shall consider the monthly reports filed by the Special Courts MP/MLA and pass suitable directions for expeditious disposal of cases. High Court may give specific directions in case of non-cooperation by the prosecution or delay by the accused or any infrastructural issues raised by the Special Court. Those of the High Courts which have disposed of the writ petitions, shall revive the same.
e. The High Courts may create an independent icon, button or tab on their website with regard to pending cases against MPs/MLAs furnishing the following details:-
i. Pendency of cases in each district giving bifurcation of cases pending for more than 1 year, between 1 and 3 years, between 3 and 5 years and more than 5 years, including the nature of offence, in 15 the format as maintained by the National Judicial Data Grid.
ii. Upload the order sheet of the High Courts in the suo motu Writ petition
iii. Upload the order sheet of all cases of the Special Court MP/MLA District wise, both at the Sessions level and Magistrate level.
The Court is to consider two main issues in the said writ petition, namely the expeditious disposal of criminal cases against elected representatives and the Constitutional validity of section 8 of Representation of the People Act, 1951. With regard to the latter, the Amicus has suggested permanent disqualification of elected representatives, instead of a 6 year ban on contesting elections.
A bench led by Chief Justice Chandrachud is set to hear the matter on 15th September.
Also Read - Amicus Curiae Supports Life Ban On Convicted Politicians; Says Sec 8 RP Act Unreasonable For Limiting Disqualification Period
The Supreme Court has been monitoring expeditious disposal of criminal cases against MPs and MLAs since 2016. Initially 12 Special Courts were constituted; and subsequently Special Courts have been established in almost all the districts, where the criminal cases are pending.
In its order dated 08.12.2018, the Supreme Court had directed that the Special Courts shall “fix a calendar for each case to be taken up on day to day basis.” By another order dated 16.09.2020, the Supreme Court had directed that “Chief Justices of the High Court shall also designate a Special Bench, comprising themselves and their designate, in order to monitor the progress of these trials.” In another subsequent order dated 04.11.2020, the Top Court directed that “keeping in mind public interest involved in the matter and in order to prevent undue delay, we direct that no unnecessary adjournments be granted in these matters.
Case Title: Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay vs. Union of India, Writ Petition (C) No. 699 of 2016