4,984 criminal cases involving legislators pending in courts: Amicus Curiae

A TOTAL of 4,984 criminal cases involving legislators were pending in various courts across the country as on December 1, 2021, according to data compiled by the Amicus Curiae who is assisting the Supreme Court court in a matter in which the top court had ordered setting up of special courts to fast-track cases against MPs and MLAs.

The report by Amicus Curiae Senior Advocate Vijay Hansaria, which is based on data provided by the various High Courts, said that “despite a series of directions by” the SC “and continuous monitoring, as many as 4,984 cases are pending out of which 1,899 cases are more than 5 years old”.

The report which was submitted to the top court Thursday by Advocate on Record Sneha Kalita pointed out that “the total number of cases pending as on December 2018 were 4,110; and as on October 2020 were 4,859”.

“Even after disposal of 2,775 cases after 04.12.2018, the cases against MPs/MLAs have increased from 4,122 to 4,984. This shows that more and more persons with criminal antecedents are occupying the seats in the Parliament and the State Legislative Assemblies,” the report said, adding that “it is of utmost necessity that urgent and stringent steps are taken for expeditious disposal of pending criminal cases”.

Hansaria said the “status report filed by the High Courts also shows that Special Courts are constituted in some of the States whereas, in other states, the respective jurisdictions courts are conducting trials in terms of the directions passed from time to time”.

“These jurisdictional Courts conduct the trial of the cases against MPs/MLAs along with discharging other roaster allocated to them. In many of the states, the same learned judge is a Special Court under various statutes such as SC/ST Act, POCSO Act, etc,” the report said. It urged the SC to direct that “Courts dealing with cases against MPs/MLAs will exclusively try these cases” and “other cases would be taken up only after trials of such cases are over” to avoid delay.

“The trial would be conducted on a day to day basis…” and “necessary allocation of work would be made by the High Court and/or the Principal Sessions Judges of every district within two weeks”, it said.

The bench is seized of a petition by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking fast-tracking of cases involving MPs and MLAs and ban on those convicted from fighting elections. Hearing it, the SC had in November 2017, ordered setting up of Special Courts in each state to try the pending criminal cases against legislators. Accordingly, 12 such courts were set up across the country.

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