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It is in public interest to set up courts to try lawmakers, says Supreme Court

Supreme Court. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Justice N.V. Ramana, leading a three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court, on Wednesday said the court has only public interest and faith in judiciary in mind while pushing for the setting up of special courts to expeditiously try sitting and former MPs and MLAs accused of various crimes.

“The purpose of this adjudication is in public interest and to maintain public faith in judiciary by making sure that long-pending cases against sitting and former MPs and MLAs are decided without delay... It is for the public we have taken up this case”, Justice Ramana explained.

The Bench was considering a report filed by a committee of the Madras High Court that raised reservations over the setting up of special courts to exclusively try legislators for various offences.

The committee said that special courts cannot be “offender-centric”. It reasoned, “An MP/MLA, who commits an offence under POCSO Act (or other Special Acts like Prevention of Corruption Act, Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act) can only be tried by a Special Court created under the POCSO Act (PC Act, NDPS Act) and there cannot be another Special Court exclusively for trial of an MP/MLA, who commits POCSO offence”.

On this, the apex court gave the Madras High Court counsel Anandh Kannan two weeks’ time to respond.

The committee report, dated October 13, drew special attention from the Bench as it comes in the face of a 2017 Supreme Court order authorising the Centre to set up 12 Special Courts to exclusively try criminal politicians.

It also comes at a time when a three-judge Bench led by Justice Ramana is looking at ways to expedite these trials pending for years, in some cases, for decades. Over 4,400 criminal trials are pending against legislators. Of this over 2,500 trials involve sitting legislators.

But the Madras High Court’s Criminal Rules Committee on Special Courts for Trial of Criminal Cases against MPs/MLAs, composed of Justices P.N. Prakash, G. Jayachandran and N. Sathish Kumar, said Special Courts cannot be set up on the basis of judicial or executive orders.

The committee also raised strong reservations against setting up Special Courts in Tamil Nadu.

“The existing Court structure in the State of Tamil Nadu, which is robust, is more than enough to deal with the cases involving MPs and MLAs”, the committee said.

Countering a submission made that the High Court had stayed 92 cases filed against politicians in Tamil Nadu, Mr. Kannan said 85% of these cases dealt with defamation allegations.

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 6:39:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/it-is-in-public-interest-to-set-up-courts-to-try-lawmakers-says-supreme-court/article33021234.ece

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