Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), the NGO spearheading campaign to stop tainted leaders from entering Parliament and State Assemblies has welcomed Government's move to set up 12 fast track courts to try 1571 lawmakers with pending criminal cases against them.

But it has also warned that these fast track court may have to work indefinitely unless tainted leaders are barred from contesting polls.

Talking to India Today TV, ADR's National Coordinator retired Major General Anil Verma said that the political parties have been blocking electoral reforms to bar candidates with pending criminal cases.

ADR's strong reaction has come a day ahead of the important hearing in Supreme Court on a PIL seeking lifetime ban on convicted persons to contest elections. "It appears to be a positive step even though it comes after persistence of the Supreme Court. The Government has given an affidavit that they will set up 12 courts to fast track cases of 1571 pending criminal cases. In an earlier judgment in March 2014 in a similar PIL, the Supreme Court had directed all the state High Courts to fast track criminal cases against sitting MPs and MLAs and to carry out those trials on a day to day basis. All the courts were directed to submit a status report to the chief justices of the respective High Courts and incase there was a delay, a report was to be submitted to the Chief Justice of the High Court. Then he was to take up appropriate measures to speed up the process," said retired Major General Verma.

"We filed RTIs to know the status of such cases but we got no satisfactory reply from any of the High Courts, similarly from the Government also we could not get any clarity," he added.   Major General Verma said that the government should specify as to when these courts are going to set up and when will they start functioning, though they have said that it will cost Rs 8 Crores. ADR national coordinator said that there are PILs pending before the Supreme Court where petitioners have requested the Supreme Court that people with criminal cases against them, where cognizance has been taken and charge sheets have been filed, judicial application of mind has taken place, and the charges are such which buy imprisonment of two years or more, such people should not be permitted to contest elections.

He said, "The larger issue is that until and unless political parties stop fielding such candidates who have criminal cases against them, things will not improve. So if this practice continues we will need permanent fast track courts."

"These recommendations are there from the law commission and various review committees (but) all the political parties are of one view; whenever there is an issue related to electoral or political reforms and that is how best to prevent it,' he added. As per ADR data, number of MPs with declared criminal cases in Lok Sabha Elections has seen a steady rise.

In 2004, there were 24 percent MPs with declared criminal cases. In 2009, the number increased to 30 percent while in 2014, it further rose to 34 percent.

ADR has analyzed 4776 sitting MPs/MLAs, there are 1566 (33 percent) MPs/MLAs with declared criminal cases while 983(21 percent) MPs/MLAs analyzed have declared serious criminal cases against themselves.

Among the states with highest number of MLAs criminal cases pending, Jharkhand leads with 64 percent followed by Kerala with 62 percent, while Bihar has 58 percent MLAs with criminal cases pending.

As for the state of Gujarat, where second and final phase of polling is to be held, ADR report says that out of 1815 candidates analyzed, 253 (14 percent) candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves.

In 2012 Gujarat Assembly Elections, out of 1283 candidates analysed, 222(17 percent) had declared criminal cases against themselves.


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