SC directs Govt to get HC Nod before withdrawing cases filed against MPs/MLAs, Get Details Here
The Supreme Court bench headed by the Chief Justice issued directions after various instances of the proposed withdrawal of cases against the lawmakers of the ruling parties in states were flagged by amicus curiae (friend of the court) Vijay Hansaria.
The Supreme Court on August 25, 2021, said that the Governments should take the approval of the respective High Court before withdrawing criminal cases filed against MLAs/MPs. The apex court further emphasized that there is nothing wrong with withdrawing the cases of malicious prosecution, however, the High Court must examine such cases.
A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana said, “We are not against the withdrawal of cases if there is a malicious prosecution. But this needs to be examined by the judicial officer in the High Court. If the HC agrees then the cases can be withdrawn.”
The bench headed by the Chief Justice issued directions after various instances of the proposed withdrawal of cases against the lawmakers of the ruling parties in states were flagged by amicus curiae (friend of the court) Vijay Hansaria when the bench was hearing the progress in speedy disposal of cases against them.
Why SC has directed governments to get High Court nod?
Senior advocate Vijay Hansaria, appointed amicus curiae in a 2016 petition filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking direction to fast track criminal trials against the sitting and former MPs/MLAs, has filed a report in the Supreme Court. Advocate Hansaria has been assisted by advocate Sneha Kalita in the matter.
According to the report, the State Government informed the amicus that 510 cases related to the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013 were registered in 5 districts of the Meerut zone against 6,869 accused.
Out of these, in 175 registered cases, the charge sheet was filed, in 165 cases final reports were submitted and 170 cases were expunged (erased completely).
The report further states that thereafter 77 cases were withdrawn by the State Government under Section 321 of CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure). The government orders of withdrawing the cases do not give any reason for withdrawal of the case under Section 321 of CrPC. It merely states that the administration, after full consideration, has taken a decision of withdrawing the particular case.
What amicus curiae suggests regarding the government’s withdrawing cases?
The amicus submitted that the 77 cases, that were withdrawn by the State Government, may be examined by the High Court by exercising revisional jurisdiction under Section 401 of CrPC, in the light of the law laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of State of Kerala vs K. Ajith 2021.
Hansaria has submitted that the High Court may be directed to issue administrative instructions to speed up the trial of pending cases on a day-to-day basis in terms of Section 309 CrPC.
Some instances where ruling government withdrew cases against MPs/MLAs:
• The Karnataka Government, in August 2020, had issued instructions to withdraw 61 cases against MLAs. However, no further action can be taken as the HC order in PIL stayed the operation of notification.
• Uttarakhand had sought the withdrawal prosecution against sitting MLA Rajkumar Thukral who was accused in a murder case registered in 2012. The case is still pending before the trial court.
• Uttar Pradesh Government chose to withdraw prosecution in 2020 against Sadhvi Prachi and three other sitting MLAs Suresh Rana, Sangeet Som, and Kapil Dev for making inflammatory statements during the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots.
• In Maharashtra, the state government decided to withdraw the political cases against activists prior to December 31, 2019.
Lack of infrastructure, manpower in judiciary and probe agencies:
During the hearing, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court drew a parallel between the problems faced by the judiciary and probe agencies such as ED or CBI.
He said that just like the judiciary, probe agencies are also suffering from a lack of infrastructure and manpower. The Chief Justice added that we don’t want to say anything about these agencies because we don’t want to demoralize them, they are overburdened, and the same with the judges.