Supreme Court gives the nod for setting up 12 special courts to try cases against politicians

The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave the green signal for the Centre’s scheme to set up 12 fast track courts to exclusively prosecute and dispose 1,581 criminal cases pending against Members of Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies within a year.

A Bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha directed the Centre to forthwith allocate ₹7.8 crore to the States for setting up such courts.

The States shall, in consultation with the High Courts concerned, make the courts operational by March 1, 2018, the Bench said.

PIL petitioner and Supreme Court advocate Ashwini Upadhyay said 12 courts were not enough to try 1,581 cases and ₹7.8 crore was too little to prosecute “criminal” politicians.

To this, Justice Gogoi responded that “12 courts are not the end of it. But let them start. It is very easy to blame, but to start something is difficult”.

The Bench said, “The sum of ₹7.8 crore has been earmarked as the required expenditure for the setting up of 12 Courts and the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, has granted in-principle approval to the said allocation. Having considered the matter, we direct the Union of India to proportionately allocate ₹7.8 crore to the different States in which the Special Courts are planned to be located. This should be done forthwith.”

Supreme Court gives the nod for setting up 12 special courts to try cases against politicians

Declared cases

Immediately after such allocation, “the State governments, in consultation with the High Courts, will set up the Fast Track Courts to ensure that the courts start functioning from 01.03.2018. All necessary/required notification(s) shall be issued by the concerned/respective State Government(s),” the court ordered.

The 1,581 criminal cases were declared by politicians in their nominations in the 2014 general elections.

Justice Gogoi said the scheme proposes to club the cases of several politicians together and have one court hear them. This way, the Bench expected a special court to finish at least 100 cases a year.

The Supreme Court directed the High Courts, acting through the various trial courts, to trace out from the case records the criminal cases pending against politicians and transfer them to the special courts concerned for adjudication.

The Supreme Court said the Centre’s scheme was “rudimentary” at this stage, but it would be open for modifications as and when the situation arises.

“We further make it clear that what has been directed above is all very tentative at this stage and has been so done with a view to get the Court(s) operational and functional. As and when necessary changes are required to be made in the present directions or any additional directions are called for, the same will be issued, as may be required,” the Supreme Court recorded in its order.

The court scheduled the next hearing to March 7, 2018, by which time, it said, the fast track courts are expected to become operational.

The order comes on a petition filed by Mr. Upadhyay for a life ban on convicted politicians from contesting elections. The court said it would consider the issue in the next hearing in March.

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 3:08:04 AM |

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