The Central Government has decided to set up 12 special courts for fast prosecution of trial cases against the accused lawmakers and Politicians involved in criminal cases. Henceforth, the special courts will exclusively deal with 1581 pending cases against MPs and MLAs to dispose them within a year.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had directed the Centre to present the details regarding 1581 pending cases that involved criminal accusations against MPs and MLAs, as declared by the politicians at the time of filing their nominations during the 2014 general elections. Further, the apex court also asked about the status of these cases but the government said that it does not have data on how many of these cases have been decided and whether any new case has been filed against an MP or MLA between 2014 and 2017. Then in November, the Supreme Court asked the Centre to set up special courts to fast track the procurement of these cases against legislators.
In response the that, the law ministry additional secretary Reeta Vasishta submitted a two-page affidavit to the top court regarding the central scheme and said the finance ministry has approved Rs 7.8 crore to set up these courts. The important decision will put an end to the inordinate delay in the prosecution of politicians in criminal cases; this could prove to be a blow to politicians who, despite facing serious charges, have stayed in Parliament and state assemblies because of delays in trying them. Since all 1581 cases will be solved exclusively by the 12 special courts within a year, the fate of all these lawmakers could be decided within a year.
Among the 12 special courts, two special courts will handle cases against 228 MPs and other 10 courts will be set up in as many states – Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telengana, UP and West Bengal – where number of tainted MLAs are more than 65. The affidavit said that number of special courts to be constituted was decided on the basis of presumption that each court would be able to dispose of 165 cases per annum and 12 courts would bring to an end the long pending cases against MPs and MLAs. The Supreme court, on the other hand, is still hearing a PIL filed by Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking life ban on convicted lawmakers from electoral politics. And as a surprise, for the first time, the Election Commission has favoured life ban on convicted MPs and MLAs from contesting polls. This has prompted the SC to ensure that trials of lawmakers are completed within a year as laid down by the apex court in 2015 – so that they can make a legitimate decision. This is an important major move that will decentralise the special treatments given to lawmakers and politicians.