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Prioritise trial against MP/MLAs; designate special courts: SC directs Kerala and Patna HCs

The bench was hearing the plea filed by advocate and BJP leader Ashwani Kumar Upadhyay to provide adequate infrastructure for setting up Special Courts to decide criminal cases against lawmakers, people’s representatives, public servants and members of the judiciary.

Dec 4, 2018 20:21 IST
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The Supreme Court on December 4, 2018 directed the High Courts of Bihar and Kerala to prioritise trials of criminal cases against former and present Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) involving offences punishable with life imprisonment.

The bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Sanjay Krishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph also directed the high courts to designate as many Sessions and Magistrate’s courts in each district as Special Courts to conduct the speedy trials of lawmakers.

Such cases will be heard on a day to day basis and cases involving life imprisonment as punishment will be heard on priority basis.

The designated courts will have to submit report to High Court regarding the progress of such cases. The High Court will then submit a report regarding the same to the Supreme Court.

The high courts were directed to submit first of such status report by December 14, 2018.

The plea

The bench was hearing the plea filed by advocate and BJP leader Ashwani Kumar Upadhyay to provide adequate infrastructure for setting up Special Courts to decide criminal cases against lawmakers, people’s representatives, public servants and members of the judiciary.

The Amicus Curiae Vijay Hansaria informed the bench that there are 4122 cases pending against current (2324) and former (1675) MPs and MLAs.

Ashwini Kumar also pleaded for a lifetime ban on politicians convicted of criminal offences from contesting elections.

Supreme Court’s September 2018 ruling on political candidates

The Supreme Court on September 25, 2018 ruled that candidates cannot be disqualified from contesting elections merely because charges have been framed against them in a criminal case.

The ruling was delivered by a five-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court, which was chaired by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and comprised Justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.

The bench ruled that all candidates seeking to contest elections must declare their past criminal charges/ records. Political parties must also display the full details of the criminal charges faced by their candidates on their official website.

The judgment came on a batch of petitions filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, former Chief Election Commissioner JM Lyngdoh and NGO Public Interest Foundation.

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