The Supreme Court is considering an amicus curiae report which has recommended holding day-to-day and exclusive criminal trials of MPs and MLAs, noting that 5,097 cases are pending against lawmakers across the country.
Of these, more than 40% — 2,122 cases — have been pending for over five years, noted a report submitted by amicus curiae, senior advocate Vijay Hansaria, before a Bench led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud.
“As per report of the Association for Democratic Rights (July 2022), 236 out of 542 Lok Sabha members (44%), 71 out of 226 Rajya Sabha members (31%) and 1,723 of 3,991 State Legislators (43%) have criminal cases against them,” the amicus, assisted by advocate Sneha Kalita, informed the court.
Mr. Hansaria said that the “large pendency of cases against sitting as well as former Parliamentarians and State Legislators” was a serious issue.
The report recommended that State High Courts and Principal Sessions Judges in every district should allocate work among judicial officers so that these cases could be tried exclusively on a day-to-day basis. “No adjournment shall be granted except in rare and exceptional circumstances and for reasons to be recorded,” the report recommended, adding that States should appoint at least two Special Public Prosecutors.
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“In case the public prosecutor and/or the prosecution fail to co-operate in the expeditious trial, the trial court shall send a copy of the order to the Chief Secretary of the State, who will take necessary remedial measures and submit a report,” it suggested.
The bail of the accused should be cancelled if they tried to delay the trial, the amicus said, proposing that first priority should be given to cases dealing with offences which are punishable with death or life imprisonment. Cases involving sitting legislators should be given priority over former legislators, the amicus added.
The apex court has scheduled a hearing in July.