4,442 Cases Pending Against Sitting and Former Legislators; Oldest Case in Punjab 36-Year-Old


Supreme Court gives Centre 6 weeks to clarify its stand on life time ban on such people from contesting elections

Clarion India

NEW DELHI – The Supreme Court was on Thursday shocked to hear that a murder case against a legislator in Punjab is pending for the last 36 years. The legislator’s case is part of 4,442 cases that are pending against sitting and former MPs and MLAs in different courts, including special courts designated to try these cases.

This revelation has come through data provided by all the High Courts to the Supreme Court.

A report compiled by amicus curiae and senior advocate Vijay Hansaria said: “In 2,556 cases sitting legislators are accused persons. The number of legislators involved are more than total number of cases since there are more than one accused in one case, and the same legislator is an accused in more than one case.”

“This is shocking,” remarked Justices N.V. Ramana when he was told during a hearing on Thursday that the oldest criminal case pending against a legislator dates back to 1983; and that it is from Punjab.

Justices Ramana is part of the bench that also comprises Justices Surya Kant and Hrishikesh Roy. The bench is hearing a PIL seeking lifetime ban on people, who have been convicted in a criminal case, from contesting elections.

The amicus curiae, senior advocate Vijay Hansaria cited the March 5 order of the apex court, which directed to furnish reports regarding pending cases MPs and MLAs.

The apex court asked the Centre to clarify its stand on life time ban on contesting elections within 6 weeks.

The amicus curiae report was filed on an order passed by the top court on a PIL by BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, who urged the court to give directions for speedy trial of criminal cases against sitting and former lawmakers. The top court had directed the Registrar Generals of all High Courts to bring on record the information in connection with pending cases against lawmakers. “There are 413 cases in respect of offences which are punishable with imprisonment for life, out of which in 174 cases sitting MPs/MLAs are accused,” the affidavit said.

Hansaria also provided the state-wise list of cases where trials are pending due to stay orders from superior courts. “Trial of 352 cases have been stayed by the High Courts and this Court,” said the affidavit.

According to the report, in Uttar Pradesh, there are 1,217 pending cases, in which 446 sitting legislators are accused. In Bihar, there are 531 cases, out of which in 256 cases sitting legislators are accused, in Tamil Nadu (324 pending cases), in Maharashtra (330 pending cases), and in Orissa (331 pending cases), among others.

Hansaria has suggested special courts should be set up in every district for MPs/MLAs. “Each High Court may be directed to assign/allocate criminal cases involving former and sitting legislators to as many Sessions Courts and Magisterial Courts as the respective High Courts may consider proper, fit and expedient having regard to the number and nature of pending cases. Such decisions may be taken by the high courts within four weeks of the order,” said the affidavit.

The affidavit said that many cases are registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act, Prevention of Money Laundering Act, Arms Act, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and defamation under section 500 IPC. Hansaria suggested that the special courts should prioritise cases involving offences punishable with death or life imprisonment.

“Each High Court shall register a suo motu case with the title ‘In Re: Special Courts for MPs/MLAs’ to monitor the progress of cases pending in the state and ensure compliance of directions of this Court,” said the affidavit.

Hansaria suggested that forensic laboratories should give priority in furnishing the report in respect of cases being tried by the Special Courts and will submit all pending reports within one month. “Each Special Court will send a monthly status report to the High Court and the High Court, on examination of the same, will issue necessary directions to ensure speedy disposal of cases. The case shall be heard by the High Court at such interval as may be necessary, however, at least once in three months,” said the affidavit.

– With input from IANS


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