Hasten MP, MLAs' criminal trials, says Supreme Court

Supreme Court of India

The next date of hearing has been fixed as December 13, by the Supreme Court.

A life ban on convicted MPs and MLAs was sought by the Election Commission of India, from contesting elections.

She also favoured special courts to fast track pending criminal cases.

Two PILs, one by NGO Lok Prahari and another by BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay, have demanded a life-time ban on convicted politicians, implementation of earlier court orders that mandated timebound disposal of such cases, and automatic disqualification of convicted lawmakers.

The bench directed the Centre to also show the developments and procedure in establishing special courts and also indicate the amount of funds that could be earmarked for the objective.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought to know how "effectively" its direction that trials in all criminal offences involving sitting members of Parliament and State legislatures should be concluded within an year by holding it on a day to day basis has been implemented.

According to the declarations made by candidates who filed nomination papers for the 2014 elections, there were 1,581 lawmakers who were facing criminal cases.

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In what could one of the game-changing reform in the Indian electoral system, the Election Commission of India has raised its voice for the lifetime ban on convicted MPs, MLAs from contesting elections.

There are also five MLAs who have declared murder cases against them, and another 11 with cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act. SC wants to ensure that the corrupt politicians should not succeed in prolonging the trial by using their offices.

The Centre, in its affidavit, had said the prayer sought by the petitioner seeking life-time bar on convicted lawmakers was not maintainable and the plea should be dismissed.

Senior counsel Meenakshi Arora, appearing for the EC, said the Commission supported the petitioner to the extent that there should be de-criminalisation of politics.

The Central government through Additional Solicitor General Atmaram Nadkarni submitted that the Union Government would not be averse to setting up of Special Courts to try criminal cases/offences involving political persons for expeditious disposal of the same.

Directing that the scheme for such special courts be placed before it on the next date of hearing, the court said that this would would include the appointment of Judicial Officers, Public Prosecutors, court staff and other such requirement of manpower and infrastructure at the expense of the central government.

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