Source: 
News18
https://www.news18.com/india/more-than-2000-criminal-cases-against-mps-mlas-decided-in-2023-sc-told-8861592.html
Author: 
PTI
Date: 
22.04.2024
City: 
New Delhi

The affidavit said 1,746 fresh criminal cases were filed in 2023 against the MPs/MLAs and therefore total of 4,474 cases remain pending as on January 1, 2024

Special courts for trial of criminal cases related to Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assembly decided more than 2,000 cases in 2023, the Supreme Court has been informed.

In an affidavit filed by senior advocate Vijay Hansaria, who has been appointed amicus curiae in a PIL seeking expeditious disposal of criminal cases against MPs/MLAs, said that more directions are needed for speedy adjudication of pending trials and their investigation under strict monitoring by the respective high courts, as there are around 501 candidates with criminal cases who are contesting the Lok Sabha elections in the first two phases.

Referring to a report of NGO ‘Association of Democratic Reforms for the Lok Sabha elections 2024 Phase I and Phase II,’ Hansaria, assisted by advocate Sneha Kalita, said that out of 2,810 candidates (Phase I – 1618 candidates and Phase II – 1192 candidates), 501 (18 per cent) candidates have criminal cases against them, out of which, 327 (12 per cent) are serious criminal cases (punishable with imprisonment of 5 years and more).

“The same was the position in 2019 Lok Sabha elections in which out of 7928 candidates, 1500 candidates (19%) had criminal cases, out of which 1070 candidates (13%) were serious criminal cases. However, out of 514 elected members of 17th Lok Sabha (2019-2024), 225 members (44%) had criminal cases against them.

“Thus, the candidates with criminal cases have won more seats than candidates without criminal cases. In this context, it is necessary that this court may pass further orders for expeditious disposal of pending trials and investigation under strict monitoring by the respective high courts,” the affidavit said.

Hansaria, who is assisting the court in the PIL filed by Ashwini Upadhyay for speedy disposal of cases against the lawmakers, said, “It may be noted that in view of the direction issued by this court in the present proceedings, the steps taken by the respective high courts, and expeditious hearing by the special court MP/MLA, more than 2000 cases have been decided in the year 2023. However, a large number of cases are pending, and many of them are for a long period.”

He gave a tabular chart based on the information received from different high courts, under which as on January 1, 2023 there were 4,697 criminal cases against the lawmakers and 2,018 cases were decided last year. The affidavit said 1,746 fresh criminal cases were filed in 2023 against the MPs/MLAs and therefore total of 4,474 cases remain pending as on January 1, 2024.

The maximum, 766 cases out of 1,300, as on January 1, 2023 were adjudicated by the special courts in Uttar Pradesh. Delhi, which had 105 cases at the start of last year, disposed of 103 cases by December 31, 2023. Some of the big states, like Maharashtra, decided 232 cases out of 476 cases against MPs/MLAs as on January 1, 2023, West Bengal 13 out of 26, Gujarat 30 out of 48, Karnataka 150 out of 226, Kerala 132 out of 370, and Bihar decided 171 cases out of 525 cases.

Hansaria said though a number of cases are decided, a large number of cases are still pending trial for a long period. “It is thus necessary that the High Court may call for a report from the presiding officers of the Special Court MP/MLA of all those cases which are pending for 3 or more years with reason for long pendency along with a copy of the order sheet of last one year.

“It may be clarified that only a copy of the order sheet is to be sent and not the entire case file so that the trial is not affected. The High Court may thereafter, pass appropriate orders on micro examination of each case with a positive direction that a trial may be completed within one year,” he said. He sought direction from the apex court for creating a model website on the pattern of National Judicial Data Grid for uploading of real time information on the progress of the trial of cases against lawmakers.

“For this purpose, this court may constitute a committee under the chairmanship of a sitting Judge of this court. The committee may comprise of Chief Justice/ Judges of some of the high courts, a member of e-Committee, a nominee National Informatics Centre (NIC) and such other persons as this court may think appropriate,” the affidavit said. On micro monitoring of cases pending for more than three years, Hansaria said that the high courts (Allahabad, Delhi, Punjab & Haryana, Telangana and Tripura) have monitored the progress of the trial of the cases by passing effective detailed orders, while other high courts have only sought information of the pending cases.

“This court may consider passing appropriate directions so that the high courts in the Suo Motu writ petitions registered in terms of the judgment and order dated November 9, 2023 to closely monitor the progress and pass suitable directions wherever necessary,” the affidavit said. On November 9 last year, in a significant verdict aimed at fast-tracking trials in more than 5,000 criminal cases against lawmakers, the top court had directed high courts to set up a special bench to monitor cases for their speedy disposal. It had also asked special courts not to adjourn proceedings in such matters except “for rare and compelling reasons.”

Issuing a slew of directions to high courts, district judges, and special courts designated to hear matters related to lawmakers, the top court had directed that criminal cases against members of Parliament, legislative assemblies and legislative councils be given priority.

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