Special courts to try MPs and MLAs: Centre

SC wants exclusive courts to complete trials within a year.

New Delhi: In a decision that marks a significant step towards an accountable, cleaner polity, the government on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that it has decided to set up 12 special courts in various parts of the country to dispose of an estimated 1,581 cases in a year against MPs and MLAs that have been pending since 2014.

These cases were decla-red by politicians in 2014 when they filed their nomination papers for the Lok Sabha polls as well as elections to eight Assemblies.

In an affidavit filed in response to the court’s direction, the government said the courts are to be set up at a cost of '7.80 cr for which the ministry of finance has approved.

On a query relating to the stages of trial of these cases, the Centre said it was in the process of collecting information from the Election Commission and states as law and order is a state subject.

The Supreme Court is hearing a petition from Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, a lawyer and a member of the BJP, who has argued against the present system of barring a convicted lawmaker from contesting elections for six years. The petitioner has said a lifetime-ban is required — a suggestion the top court agreed with during the last hearing on November 1.

According to the Representation of the People Act, 1951, a politician convicted and sentenced to a jail term of two years or more shall be disqualified from contesting polls for six years from the date of his release from prison after conclusion of the term. On November 1, the apex court had directed the Centre to set up special courts exclusively for taking up trials in criminal cases pending against 1,581 MPs and MLAs since 2014. The apex court had made it clear that these special courts should only handle cases involving lawmakers so that these trials can be completed within a year.

Each court should be able dispose of 165 cases in a year. However, in states where there are less than 65 cases, the Centre proposed that these cases be tried in the existing fast-track courts.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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