Supreme Court takes up issue of pending cases against politicians

The Supreme Court on Thursday prioritised the need to expeditiously complete trial in over 4000 criminal cases, from corruption to money laundering, pending against legislators across the country.

Also read: 4,442 cases pending against legislators across country

A Bench led by Justice N.V. Ramana was alarmed to find that cases registered against politicians nearly 40 years ago were still pending trial.

One such case in Punjab dates back to 1983, and is one of the oldest found in a report submitted by the court’s amicus curiae, senior advocate Vijay Hansaria and advocate Sneha Kalita. “Charges were framed in the case. It is still pending. It has been 36 years,” Mr. Hansaria submitted.

“This is shocking... Why is it pending?” Justice Ramana asked advocate Karan Bharihoke, for Punjab. The Bench asked the Punjab and Haryana High Court to make an enquiry and get back. It asked Mr. Hansaria to recommend a plan to complete the trial in pending cases and suggest if more special courts were required to be set up. The court has asked high courts that have not provided information to the amicus curiae on cases pending against legislators to do so.

It scheduled the case for hearing on Wednesday.

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The report submitted by Mr. Hansaria said there were 2556 cases against sitting Members of Parliament and State legislators. The cases are pending in various special courts exclusively set up to try criminal cases registered against politicians.

The report was filed on Tuesday after collating information received from high courts about the cases pending in courts within their jurisdiction. The apex court had sought the amicus report on a petition filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay highlighting the criminalisation of politics.

The cases against the legislators also include damage to public property, defamation and cheating. A large number of cases are for violation of Section 188 IPC, for wilful disobedience and obstruction of orders promulgated by a public servant. “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 court said.

Also read: Supreme Court orders parties to publish criminal history of Lok Sabha, Assembly candidates

Trial in 352 cases have been stayed by the high courts and the apex court. A large number of cases are pending at appearance stage and even non-bailable warrants (NBWs) issued by the courts have not been executed.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 1:02:56 AM |

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