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12.12.2017
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The Union government has told the Supreme Court that it is ready to set up 12 special courts for one year to deal with 1571 criminal cases pending against MPs and MLAs in the country.

"The scheme framed in this regard currently envisages setting up 12 criminal courts for a period of one year to dispose of cases against political persons at an expenditure of Rs 7.80 crore," the Law and Justice Ministry submitted in an affidavit.

The Finance Ministry has given in-principle approval for it on December 8, it added.

The government's response came after the apex court had on November 1 said the problem of criminalisation of politics can be solved by setting up special courts under a central scheme on line with the fast-track courts. The apex court had then passed its order on a PIL filed by a Delhi BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.

The Centre said the data of pending 1571 cases were provided by NGO Association for Democratic Reforms but other details as to in which courts those cases are awaiting decisions are not available, so it has initiated process of collecting more information from respective state governments.

The government has further submitted that it was also in the process of collecting data as to how many criminal cases against MPs and MLAs were disposed of within a period of one year of framing charges as per the direction of the apex court on March 10, 2014, or resulted in conviction and acquittal and reasons thereof. It sought more time to place on record how many other cases were registered against the former and the sitting MPs and MLAs between 2014 and 2017.

With regard to the number of 12 special courts across the country, the government said it has been calculated on the basis of 11 th Finance Commission analysis that one such court can dispose of 165 cases per annum.

As per the available details, 184 Lok Sabha and 44 Rajya Sabha MPs are facing criminal cases. Among the state legislators, Maharashtra topped the list with 160 lawmakers with such charges, Uttar Pradesh came second with figure of 143 and Bihar third with 141 MLAs. Karnataka has 73 legislators with criminal cases pending against them.

The apex court would consider the government's affidavit on Wednesday.

The Election Commission had earlier supported the plea made by the PIL petitioner for life time ban on convicted politicians from contesting elections.

The Centre, however, had opposed the plea and maintained that it would instead endorse all steps for decriminalisation of politics. The petitioner, along with others, has challenged validity of disqualification period of six years for convicted persons from contesting polls after serving the sentence.

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