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Kerala Kaumudi Online
Monday, 26 February 2024 5.05 PM IST

Supreme Court asks High Courts to speed up cases against lawmakers, issues guidelines

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a slew of directions for speedy disposal of criminal cases against Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assembly (MPs/MLAs) and asked High Courts to register a Suo Motu case for effective monitoring and speedy disposal of such cases.

A bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justices JB Pardiwala, and Manoj Misra said it was difficult for it to form a uniform guideline for trial courts across the country relating to speedy disposal of cases against MPs and MLAs.

The top court left it to the high courts to evolve such measures for effective monitoring of such cases.

The bench directed that High Court Chief Justices shall register a suo motu case titled "In Re Designated Courts for MPs and MLAs" to monitor the early disposal of pending criminal cases against lawmakers.

It directed that the suo motu case be heard by a special bench headed by the Chief Justice or a bench assigned by him or her.

It was further directed that the Special Bench of the High Court may list the matter at regular intervals as felt necessary. The top court said the High Court may issue such orders and directions as necessary for expeditious and effective disposal of the cases.

The bench further ordered that the Special Bench of the High Court may consider taking the assistance of the Advocate General or prosecutor to assist it.

The apex court also directed that cases against MPs and MLAs that are punishable by death should be prioritised over other cases. Then cases punishable with imprisonment for five years or more will be given priority.

It further said that the cases would not be adjourned by the trial court except for rare and compelling reasons.

The top court said that the High Court may require a Principal District and Sessions judge to bear the responsibility of allocating the subject cases to such courts.

The High Court may call upon the Principal District and Sessions judge to send reports on such intervals, it added.

The concerned principal and session judge should ensure sufficient infrastructural facilities are available for the trial of such cases, as directed by the top court.

The directions of the top court came on a PIL filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay seeking speedy disposal of criminal cases pending against MPs and MLAs.

Earlier, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) filed a status report stating that there are 51 MPs and 71 MLAs, sitting and former, who stand accused by the agency of offence under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The report did not specify exactly how many of those are sitting MPs or MLAs and how many are former MPs or MLAs.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had also submitted a similar report stating that a total of 121 cases are pending trial against sitting and former MPs and MLAs.

The number of MPs involved in those cases is 51, out of which 14 are sitting, 37 are former and 5 are deceased. The report further stated that 112 MLAs are involved in CBI cases, out of which 34 are sitting, 78 are former and 9 are deceased.

The number of cases pending investigation against MPs and MLAs by the CBI is 37, according to the report the CBI submitted.

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