Expedite Criminal Cases Against MPs & MLAs: Supreme Court
New Delhi: In a significant development, the Supreme Court on Thursday expedited disposal of criminal cases against members of legislative assemblies and Parliament.
The country’s top court directed all high courts to register cases on their own motion to monitor such trials and prioritise cases which entail death sentence or life imprisonment as maximum punishment.
The three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud, said that even though no uniform directives setting down specific timeline for disposal of criminal trials against MPs and MLAs can be issued, but chief justices of all high courts shall register suo motu proceedings for effective monitoring and disposal of trials pending within their jurisdiction.
“The special Bench may list the matter at regular intervals as felt necessary. The high court chief justices may issue such orders and directions as necessary for expeditious and effective disposal of the cases,” the bench said.
The special bench can either be led by high court chief justices or judges nominated by them, added the Supreme Court, also comprising justices PS Narasimha and Manoj Misra.
Laying down the provision of such cases that fetch death penalty or life term of more than five years should be prioritised, the top court also directed high courts to list cases where trials have been stayed and all attempts will be made to expedite such trials.
Sufficient infrastructural facilities will be ensured for trial courts to take up such cases, and high court websites will create an independent tab to make public the year of filing of such cases, their status and other relevant details, the CJI-headed bench directed.
The Supreme Court order came in relation to a 2016 petition filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay. The plea sought from the apex court suitable directives to fast-track criminal trials against sitting and former MPs and MLAs.
There are 5,175 cases pending against MLAs/MPs across various trial courts in India, of which around 40% (2,116 cases) have been ongoing for more than five years. The most pending cases were reported from Uttar Pradesh (1,377), Bihar (546) and Maharashtra (482).
A Supreme Court judgment in a separate case in 2014 had ordered trials against elected lawmakers be completed within a year of charges being framed. The top court had then ruled that trial courts will have to explain to chief justices of their respective high courts if proceedings are not completed within a year of framing charges.