Pursuant to the Supreme Court’s order in a petition filed by Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, the Central government is in the process of setting up Special Courts to dispose of criminal cases pending against politicians.

In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court yesterday, the Centre has proposed a Scheme for the same, by which twelve Special Courtswill be set up to decide the cases within a period of one year. This Scheme, as the affidavit mentions, is subject to tweaks, after consultation with state governments.

In its order dated November 1, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre to place on record information on how many of the cases pending against Members of Parliament and Members of Legislatives Assemblies (MPs and MLAs) had been disposed of within a year, as was mandated by another apex court order passed in March 2014.

The Court had also sought information on details of cases lodged against current and former legislators between 2014 and 2017, and how many cases have resulted in acquittal/conviction.

In response, the Centre stated that there was no government agency that kept track of the number of disposed cases, much less the total number of pending cases. Instead, it had to rely on a report by NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), which had recorded a total number of 1581 cases pending against MPs and MLAs, based on declarations at the time of filing nomination papers.

According to the NGO, this number has come down to 1571, on account of death, resignation etc. of legislators.

The ADR report reveals that 188 Lok Sabha MPs and 44 Rajya Sabha MPs currently have criminal cases registered against them. The report also gives a state-wise breakdown of the number of errant politicians.

Below are the states with the most legislators with criminal cases against them:

State No. of MP/MLAs with declared criminal cases
Maharashtra 160
Uttar Pradesh 143
Bihar 141
West Bengal 107
Kerala 87
Andhra Pradesh  84
Tamil Nadu 75
Karnataka 73
Madhya Pradesh 70
Telangana 67

As regards the number of disposed cases and recently instituted ones, the Centre had pleaded for more time to collect the information from state governments.

The Supreme Court Bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha had also directed the Centre to set up a Central Scheme to set up Fast Track Courts with a view to exclusively dealing with criminal cases pending against legislators. The Court had directed the Centre to submit the amount of funds required to set up these courts by the next date of hearing, December 13.

In response, the Centre has averred that it would set up 12 Special Courts for a period of one year. This number was based on the 11thFinance Commission report, which found that one such court can dispose 165 cases per year. It is suggested that trials in states with fewer than 65 cases can be completed in the existing Fast Track Courts.

The Centre has earmarked Rs. 7.8 crore for these 12 Special Courts. This number was arrived after estimating Rs. 65 lakh to be the cost of setting up one such court, after taking account the revised pay scales of judges in light of the 7th Central Pay Commission.

The matter will come up for hearing in the Supreme Court tomorrow.

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