Cases against lawmakers: SC asks states, UTs to furnish details

Supreme Court

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted two more weeks to 20 states and union territories (UTs) and their respective high courts to furnish complete updated information about the status of pending and fresh criminal cases against the lawmakers.

Out of 36 states and UTs, only 16 of them have so far filed their replies giving information like the status of 1,581 criminal cases which were pending in 2014 against MPs and MLAs.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi also asked the Centre not to wait for the responses of the state governments and provide infrastructure and other facilities to establish special additional courts for expeditious disposal of cases involving the lawmakers.

The bench, also comprising justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, meanwhile appointed senior advocate Vijay Hansaria as amicus curiae for assisting it and asked him to prepare a report within a week on the measures needed to effectively deal with the criminal cases against MPs and MLAs.

Senior advocate Dinesh Dwivedi, appearing for BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay who has filed the PIL, sought a detailed hearing on the prayer seeking inflicting of life time ban on convicted politicians.

The court said that it may hear this aspect in November.

Earlier, the apex court had asked the 25 states and UTs and the high courts to place before it "full and complete updated information" about the status of cases pending against MPs and MLAs.

It had also the states, UTs and registrars general of all high courts to place before it the "precise number" of cases which are currently pending and are required to be transferred to the special courts, set up to deal exclusively with cases involving MPs and MLAs.

It had noted that 12 special courts have already been set up in 11 states and said the information should be placed before it by today.

The bench had also made it clear that on receipt of the information, the top court would, if needed, monitor compliance of its orders by clubbing a number of states together for being separately taken up on each date of hearing.

Upadhyay had referred to the affidavit filed by the Department of Justice and had said 12 special courts have been set up in 11 states but there was no material to show how many cases have been transferred to these courts.

As per the government's affidavit, the total number of cases transferred, disposed of and pending in these special courts are 1233, 136 and 1,097 respectively.

The apex court in its November last year's order had also sought details as to whether any further criminal cases have been lodged against any present or former MPs and MLAs between 2014 and 2017, along with their details.

The Department of Justice, in their latest affidavit, has said that one special court each has been set up in states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Telengana, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal whereas two such courts have been set up in National Capital Territory of Delhi.

The affidavit has further said that information from the remaining states and high courts has not yet been received.

Out of the 12 special courts, six have been set up at the sessions court level, five at the magistrate level, while the class of the court in Tamil Nadu has not been indicated, it said.

It said that states where the criminal cases against MPs and MLAs were less than 65, regular courts would try these matters on a fast-track mode.

With regard to the setting up of courts in addition to the 12 notified, the department has said the high courts of Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Patna, Calcutta and Kerala have negated any such requirement, while the Bombay High Court has expressed the requirement for additional courts without specifying any particular number.

On August 21, the apex court had sought details about the special courts, including the number of cases pending before each of these courts, along with a break-up of magisterial and sessions triable cases.

The top court's order was passed on a petition filed by Upadhyay seeking to declare the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, which bar convicted politician from contesting elections for six years after serving jail term, as ultra vires of the Constitution.

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