26 Aug 2021 1:21 PM GMT
Expressing deep concern at the long pendency of criminal cases against sitting and former MPs/MLAs, the Supreme Court has called for the establishment of more Special/CBI Courts to deal with such matters.The Court said that the establishment of only one Special Court to try cases against legislators in a State with large number of such cases will be a travesty of justice."Amicus Curiae...
Expressing deep concern at the long pendency of criminal cases against sitting and former MPs/MLAs, the Supreme Court has called for the establishment of more Special/CBI Courts to deal with such matters.
The Court said that the establishment of only one Special Court to try cases against legislators in a State with large number of such cases will be a travesty of justice.
"Amicus Curiae has rightly pointed out that in a State like Madhya Pradesh, establishment of only one Special Court at Bhopal is nothing but a travesty of justice as it is physically impossible for the prosecution and the defence to be present in the Court from different parts of the State", the Bench remarked.
A bench comprising the Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant re-emphasized the urgent need of rationalizing the establishment of Special/CBI Courts. The bench noted that it may not be humanly possible for one/two Courts in a State to expedite all the trials or take up the same on a day-to-day basis in terms of Section 309, Cr.P.C.
The bench suggested that there should be Special/CBI Courts in different parts of a state where there are more than 100 cases. It asked the High Courts to set up Special/CBI Courts, wherever required for expeditious disposal of pending trials against MPs and MLAs.
It also directed the High Courts to send Status Reports to Supreme Court for further necessary action in the event of any non ¬cooperation by the Central or State Governments.
"The Special/CBI Courts need to be set up in different parts of the State where more than 100 cases are pending to ensure easy accessibility to the witnesses and decongestion of existing Special/CBI Courts. We, thus, direct the Central Government as well as State Governments to provide necessary infrastructural facilities to the High Courts for the purposes of establishment of additional CBI/Special Courts, as the case may be".
The Court issued the direction while hearing the PIL Ashwini Kumar Upadhyaya v. Union of India filed regarding pendency of criminal cases against MPs & MLAs and expeditious disposal of the same by setting up of Special Courts.
The Bench has further directed the Special Bench constituted by the High Courts in this regard to ensure that there is no laxity on the part of State Police or the prosecuting agency as far as cooperation in expeditious disposal is concerned.
"It goes without saying that there should be continuous judicial monitoring, supervision, and vigilance by the High Courts." the Bench said.
The Court has further reminded all the High Courts of their responsibility to set up adequate Courts and ensure meticulous compliance of the directions issued by the top Court from time to time.
233 CBI cases pending trial against MPs/MLAs
The bench passed the above directions taking note of the status report submitted by the CBI. The Report revealed that there are 121 cases pending trial before different CBI Courts involving sitting MPs and ExMPs and 112 cases involving sitting MLAs and ExMLAs.
As per this Report, 37 cases are still at the investigation stage, the oldest being registered on 24th October 2013. The details of cases pending trial unveil that there are several cases in which the charge sheet was filed as far back as the year 2000, but are still pending either for appearance of accused, framing of charges or prosecution evidence.
"Without going into minute details, we are deeply concerned with the current state of affairs with respect to these cases", the bench said.
The Solicitor General of India Tushar Mehta assured the Court that he will take up the matter with the Director, CBI, for providing adequate manpower and infrastructure to the said agency so that pending investigations can be completed at the earliest.
The Court also issued a direction to the CBI as follows :
"The CBI shall also take necessary steps to secure appearance of the accused and provide necessary assistance to the CBI Courts for framing charges and to proceed further to conclude the trials. The CBI shall ensure that there is no lapse on its part in producing the prosecution witnesses".
On the last occasion, the Apex Court had pulled up the Central Government for the delay on the part of central investigation agencies like CBI, ED and NIA in filing status reports as regards the criminal cases pending against MPs and MLAs.
The Bench had granted a time of 2 weeks to SG Mehta to comply with the Court's orders and file a status report relating to the pendency of cases.
The Bench had also passed two important directions :
• No criminal prosecution against legislators must be withdrawn without the prior nod of the High Court of the concerned states.
• Judges handling cases against MPs/MLAs must continue in their posts until further orders of the Supreme Court, subject to their death or retirement.
The present petition was filed in the Supreme Court in 2016 demanding that convicted persons be debarred uniformly from Legislature, Executive and Judiciary.
The plea has sought directions to provide adequate infrastructure to set up Special Courts to decide criminal cases related to People Representatives, Public Servants and Members of Judiciary within one year and debar the convicted persons uniformly from Legislature, Executive and Judiciary.
The plea has sought directions to implement the "Important Electoral Reforms" proposed by Election Commission, Law Commission and National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution;
Further directions have been sought to set minimum qualification and maximum age limit for Legislatures and allow cost of the petition to petitioner
Case Title: Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay & Ors vs Union of India & Ors
Also Read: No Priority For MPs/MLAs In Hearing Of Criminal Appeals : Supreme Court Clarifies
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