The Supreme Court was informed that despite a series of its directions and continuous monitoring, as many a 4,984 criminal cases are pending against MPs/MLAs, and direction was sought from it to permit courts dealing with cases against lawmakers to focus on these exclusively.
A report submitted by amicus curiae, senior advocate Vijay Hansaria, who is assisted by advocate Sneha Kalita, said: “It is submitted that despite a series of directions by this court and continuous monitoring, as many as 4,984 cases are pending out of which 1,899 cases are more than 5 years old. It may be noted that the total number of cases pending as on December 2018 were 4,110; and as on October 2020 were 4,859. Even after disposal of 2,775 cases after December 4, 2018, the cases against MPs/MLAs have increased from 4,122 to 4,984.”
“This shows that more and more persons with criminal antecedents are occupying the seats in the Parliament and the state Legislative Assemblies. It is of utmost necessity that urgent and stringent steps are taken for expeditious disposal of pending criminal cases.”
The report pointed out that jurisdictional courts conduct the trial of the cases against MPs/MLAs along with discharging other rosters allocated to them, and in many of the states, the same judge heads a special court under various statutes such as SC/ST Act, POCSO Act, etc.
The amicus submitted: “The courts dealing with cases against MPs/MLAs will exclusively try these cases. Other cases would be taken up only after trials of such cases are over. The trial would be conducted on a day-to-day basis in terms of section 309 Cr.P.C. Necessary allocation of work would be made by the High Court and/or the Principal Sessions Judges of every district within two weeks.”
He said that no response has been filed by the Central government in terms of the order dated August 25, 2021, as regards expeditious investigation/trial of cases, providing of infrastructure facilities to the courts, and constitution of the monitoring committee to evaluate the reasons for delay of investigation.
“It is necessary that all the courts trying cases against MPs/MLAs are equipped with necessary infrastructure for conduct of court proceedings through internet facility,” added the report.
“Both the prosecution and defence shall cooperate with the trial of the case and no adjournment shall be granted. In case, the public prosecutor and/or the prosecution fail to co-operate in the expeditious trial, the matter shall be reported to the Chief Secretary of the state who will take necessary remedial measures. In case, the accused delays the trial, his bail shall be cancelled,” it sought.
The amicus suggested the trial court shall send a report on each of the cases where trial has been pending for more than five years before the respective high courts, citing reasons for delay and suggesting remedial measures.
“A Monitoring Committee may be constituted, headed by a former Judge of the Supreme Court or Chief Justice of a High Court to monitor the investigation of cases pending before the Enforcement Directorate, Central Bureau of Investigation and National Investigation Agency in terms of submission recorded in the order dated August 25, 2021,” added the report.
The apex court has been passing a slew of directions time-to-time on the petition filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay seeking expeditious trial of cases against MPs/MLAs, and speedy investigation by the CBI and other agencies.
The report added that the Centre should provide funds for ensuring smooth functioning of courts through virtual mode i.e. by facilitating availability of video conference facilities. “The High Courts shall submit a proposal to the Law Secretary of the Government of India in this regard as to the funds required, which shall be made available by the Central government within two weeks of the proposal. The funds released by the Central government will be subject to final adjustment with the state government as per sharing pattern,” it added.
Citing the top court’s order in November 2018, the report added that details furnished in terms of the said order show that 4,122 cases were pending against MPs/MLAs, including former MPs/ MLAs, as on December 2018. “Some of these cases were pending for more than three decades. 2,324 cases were against sitting legislators, and 1,675 against former legislators. In 1,991 cases, even the charges were not framed. 264 cases were pending due to stay granted by the high courts,” it added.