The Supreme Court on Wednesday resolved to ensure that pending criminal trials against sitting and former legislators, which run to over 4,000 across the country, will be completed in a time-bound manner.
Are you serious about completing these trials in a time-bound manner? a three-judge Bench led by Justice N.V. Ramana asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for the Centre.
We are 100% serious, Mr. Mehta replied emphatically.
There are over 2,500 criminal cases pending against sitting legislators.
The Bench specifically asked about the status of cases registered by the Central agencies such as the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate against politicians. Cases range from corruption to money laundering.
Amicus curiae and senior advocate Vijay Hansaria and advocate Sneha Kalita replied that some of these cases were stuck at the stage of framing of charges.
In his latest report to the apex court, Mr. Hansaria suggested the setting up of one special court in each district to exclusively try politicians. He recommended that chief justices of each high court be requested to furnish an action plan for expeditious disposal of these cases within a year. He said corruption cases should be given topmost priority.
Mr. Mehta recommended various measures such as expiration of any stay orders within one month, appointment of more special court judges, infrastructure, etc. He said any delay from the side of the Centre would be taken up and dealt with.
The Solicitor General suggested that every special court judge be allotted a certain number of cases. This would take care of workload and ensure time-bound trial.
The Bench agreed to pass the necessary orders. The hearing was based on a petition filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay highlighting the criminalisation of politics.
In September 2018, the Centre had informed the apex court about the setting up of 12 special courts across 11 States to exclusively try sitting and former legislators.
Delhi has two such courts while the States of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have one each. Of the 12 special courts, six are sessions courts and five are magisterial courts.
The Supreme Court had on December 14, 2017 ordered special courts to be set up across the country to fast-track the long-pending trials of lawmakers.