The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Chief Justices of the High Courts to formulate an action plan to rationalize the disposal of criminal cases pending against legislators

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Chief Justices of the High Courts to formulate an action plan to rationalize the disposal of criminal cases pending against legislators.

The action plan should touch upon the following aspects :

a. Total number of pending cases in each district

b. Required number of proportionate Special Courts

c. Number of Courts that are currently available

d. Number of Judges and the subject categories of the cases

e. Tenure of the Judges to be designated

f. Number of cases to be assigned to each Judge

g. Expected time for disposal of the cases

h. Distance of the Courts to be designated

i. Adequacy of infrastructure

While preparing the action plan, the Chief Justices should also consider, in the event the trials are already ongoing in an expeditious manner, whether transferring the same to a different Court would be necessary and appropriate.

The Chief Justice should designate a Special Bench, comprising themselves and their designate, in order to monitor the progress of these trials.

The Chief Justices are requested to give their comments on the other suggestions of the amicus curiae for the purpose of expedient disposal of pending criminal cases against legislators. Additional suggestions, if any, may also be sent to the Supreme Court.

The action plan, with the comments and suggestions of the Chief Justices of the High Courts, is to be sent to the Secretary-General of the Supreme Court, preferably within a week. A copy may also be sent to the amicus curiae by way of e­ mail.

The High Court Chief Justices have also been asked to list all pending criminal cases involving sitting/former legislators (MPs and MLAs), particularly those wherein a stay has been granted, before an appropriate bench(es) comprising of the Chief Justice and/or their designates.

Upon these cases being listed, the Court must first decide whether the stay granted, if any, should continue, keeping in view the principles regarding the grant of stay enshrined in the judgment of the Supreme Court in Asian Resurfacing of Road Agency Private Limited v. CBI

In the event that a stay is considered necessary, the Court should hear the matter on a day­-to-­day basis and dispose of the same expeditiously, preferably within a period of two months, without any unnecessary adjournment.

The COVID-19 condition should not be an impediment to the compliance of this direction, as these matters could be conveniently heard through video conferencing.

A bench comprising Justices N V Ramana, Surya Kant and Hrishikesh Roy passed these directions in a PIL filed by Ashwini Kumar Upadhyaya.

The Court said that it will pass directions on the various suggestions submitted by the amicus curiae , Senior Advocate Vijay Hansaria, later.

The Court had earlier issued directions for the establishment of Special Courts in States for the trial of criminal cases against legislators. The Court had expressed concerns about the “rising wave of wave of criminalization that was occurring in the politics”.

“ legislators are the repositories of the faith and trust of their electorate, there is a necessity to be aware of the antecedents of the person that is/was elected. Ensuring the purity of democratically elected institutions is thus the hallmark of the present proceedings”, the Court added.

The Court lamented that despite all the initiatives taken by it in the case there has been no substantial improvement in the situation when it comes to the disposal of pending criminal cases against sitting/former legislators (MPs and MLAs).

It was in December 2017 that the SC passed the directions to establish special fast track courts for cases against MPs/MLAs.

Click here to download the order

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