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Updated: January 4, 2013 14:04 IST

Can’t disqualify MPs, MLAs facing rape cases: SC

PTI
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The apex court, which was hearing two PILs filed after the December 16 gang-rape incident, said it can only give notice to the government on limited issues as some of the prayers made in the petitions were beyond its jurisdiction. File photo
The Hindu The apex court, which was hearing two PILs filed after the December 16 gang-rape incident, said it can only give notice to the government on limited issues as some of the prayers made in the petitions were beyond its jurisdiction. File photo

The Supreme Court on Friday declined to hear a plea for disqualification of MPs and MLAs charge sheeted for crime against women but agreed to go into issues of fast track trial of rape cases and implementation of laws for safety of women.

The apex court, which was hearing two PILs filed after the December 16 gang-rape incident, said it can only give notice to the government on limited issues as some of the prayers made in the petitions were beyond its jurisdiction.

“The issue of disqualification of MPs and MLAs is not in our jurisdiction,” a bench comprising justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra said.

“What is our power on MPs and MLAs. Obviously, such a sweeping relief can’t be sought,” the bench said referring to the prayer made for a direction for suspension of MPs and MLAs who have been charge-sheeted for crime against women.

The bench, during the hearing, suggested that the PIL petitioners should have taken a ground that if the investigation into the cases was not up to the mark, it should be treated as “misconduct” on the part of the Investigating Officer.

The bench also asked the government to apprise it about the terms and references of justice J.S. Verma committee which was set up to review and strengthen the existing law on rape and offences against women.

While the submission was made about the disqualification of politicians facing criminal cases, the bench observed that without going into the status of a person in life, they should be put on fast track trial.

The bench was told that out of 4835 MPs and MLAs in the country, 1448 are facing criminal cases.

However, the bench said at the moment it was not concerned with the issue and decided to hear the PIL on the limited issues.

The apex court also agreed that there was a need for fast track courts and additional judges.

“There is a lot of vacancies for the judges and lot of courts have to be set up,” the bench remarked.

The court’s observations came during hearing of the PILs filed by retired woman IAS officer Promilla Shanker and advocate and social activist Omika Dubey.

Ms. Shanker in her petition, apart from seeking suspension of MPs and MLAs charge-sheeted for crime against women, has also sought that cases of rape and crime against women and children be investigated by women police officials and trial be also conducted by lady judges.

In her plea, she has also said that no effort was being made for effective implementation of existing laws for safety of women.

Ms. Dubey in her plea, has sought directions for appointment of additional judges to adjudicate the matters of crime against women and for providing compulsory compensation to victims of rape.

She has also sought an order to restrain print and electronic media from publishing and telecasting obscene pictures of women.

Ms. Dubey has also raised issues of red light areas where girls are forced into prostitution.

The PILs were filed before the apex court days after the brutal gangrape and murder of a 23-year-old paramedical student in Delhi on December 16. The victim died in a Singapore hospital on December 29.

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Firstly, I agree with comments made by Frank and Saratchandra. Though the
educated among the voters do try to vote for non-tainted and the better of the lot
from the fray, this isn't the truth in every constituency. So education and
sensitisation of the public to take a more pro-active role during elections is a
must. Also a stronger Election Commission which can disqualify tainted candidates
from entering the fray is the need of the hour. And to state the impossible, I do
hope the good amongst the political class do a self-screening of sorts within their
party to weed out unscrupulous partymen/women.

Informed voters will sure find it "Mission Impossible" to find an Apt
Candidate/Party to choose from the fray in the coming general elections.

Lastly i would like to strongly protest the portrayal of poor animals in such poor
light. Repeatedly referring to these criminals as "Animals" is a huge insult to the
animals. I guess we humans are several notches higher in such heinous
crimes.

from:  Murali Krishnan V.
Posted on: Jan 7, 2013 at 03:23 IST

Most of the comments here are against the bench's statement. "Lost
faith in the judiciary", "Law makers are law breakers". Have we tried
to look at ourselves? Who elects the corrupt ministers? Oh let's ignore them and blame the apex court and our representatives. How many of us know the educational qualifications and the criminal cases registered against the last candidate that we voted for? The Election Commission has made this information available publicly but does anyone care to go through it. We are represented by the people we have voted for, and this is what we deserve.

from:  Frank
Posted on: Jan 4, 2013 at 18:02 IST

That the Supreme Court declined even to hear the plea to disqualify MPs and MLAs charge sheeted for crime against women looks truly unfortunate. This cannot be presumed to be in the background of allegations of judicial activism and encroachment by judiciary into the areas of legislature and executive. This also does not match well with the Supreme Court s own observation (though in another case) that judges must be sensitised to women s problems . People expect the judiciary to take stern actions in insisting on the character and integrity of people s representatives on the basis of natural justice and a right of the people not be ruled by criminals. Even the present ruling of the court points to the necessity of changes in rules in the area, though the judges have no jurisdiction to enact them. Whether our legislatures would give due importance ti the issue is anybody s guess.

from:  P.R.V.Raja
Posted on: Jan 4, 2013 at 17:50 IST

I think the SC has expressed its limitations very clearly and have given an alternative.
Suppose the MLA or MP chargesheeted is found guilty and convicted after say 5 years of the rape. Now the case can be construed the other way: Would it be befitting any democracy to allow anyone to unduely benefit and affect the lives of millions of people by allowing a criminal to frame laws for the land?
Fast-tracking of cases is important, but is it a practical possibility given the current (huge) levels of backlog. And is it solely due to an inquiry officer? I don't know if we are hinging success on the wrong elements of administration.
Thanks to unequivocally come out with a clarification. Respect the SC in doing it so soon.

from:  Nikhil S. Gurjar
Posted on: Jan 4, 2013 at 17:45 IST

Great news. With this statement of SC, people like me have lost the faith or last ray of hope on Indian judiciary systems. Thanks, Kumar.

from:  kumar
Posted on: Jan 4, 2013 at 16:02 IST

If the law makers are themselves law breakers, the situation is much like the proverbial
'fence eating the crop' ! In that case, it is 'buyers beware' and the people should not vote for
these tainted politicians. Unfortunately, people vote for parties and not for persons and
seldom any policies or character of the candidate are considered for casting the votes. The
guiding principles usually are the cast,religion,party etc:. Unless the law is changed by the
parliament with the proviso of excluding persons who have criminal charges against them, I
can't see how the SC can alter the standing law. Only the diligence of the voting public will
make the change. If a party gives nomination to tainted persons, not only the candidate must
be failed but the party must be punished as well. Are the people ready to do this? I say, I can
only dream of it!

from:  Saratchandran
Posted on: Jan 4, 2013 at 15:57 IST

if the parliamentarians are serious about changing the situation and safe guarding women's rights and safety, they should bring in laws to curb rapists standing for elections, if the courts do not have jurisdiction over them.
Lets see how many political parties are serious about it.

from:  raviraj
Posted on: Jan 4, 2013 at 13:56 IST

If the supreme court can't do anything to those 1448 charged MLA and
MPs, who can give justice to common people. How government is going to
punish these so called MLAs and MPs? How are we going to maintain law
and order if these crooks walk free?

from:  Vinoth
Posted on: Jan 4, 2013 at 13:44 IST

All the MLAs and MPs who are charge sheeted for crime against women
should be disqualified and be sent to jail.

from:  Nirmal Kr Chaubey
Posted on: Jan 4, 2013 at 13:28 IST
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