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Speedy Disposal Of Criminal Cases Against MPs And MLAs

Speedy Disposal Of Criminal Cases Against MPs And MLAs:

The Supreme Court issued directions for the speedy disposal of criminal cases against Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs).

  • The SC issued guidelines during a case challenging Section 8(3) of the Representation of People Act, 1951.
  • This section imposes a six-year ban on individuals convicted of offences with a minimum two-year sentence from contesting elections.

SC guidelines:

  • The chief justices from high courts (HC) can now initiate suo motu cases for speedy resolution of pending criminal cases involving lawmakers.
  • Such cases against MPs/MLAs can be heard by a Chief Justice-led special bench.
  •  Designated courts prioritize those criminal cases against MPs/MLAs which are: 1. Punishable with death or life imprisonment 2. Cases punishable with imprisonment for 5 years or more
  • Trial courts are instructed not to adjourn such criminal cases against MPs/MLAs, except for rare and compelling reasons.
  • District judges are tasked with ensuring adequate infrastructure and technological facilities for designated special courts trying lawmakers.
  • HCs should develop effective monitoring measures using powers under Article 227 to monitor such cases
  • Under Article 227 (1), HC exercises superintendence over all courts and tribunals in its jurisdiction.

Status of Criminal cases against MPs/MLAs:

  • In India, post the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, 43% of newly-elected MPs had pending criminal cases, as reported by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).
  • By December 2021, the number of pending criminal cases against current and former MLAs and MPs had reached close to 5,000.