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Centre nudges Tamil Nadu, UP to form special courts for trying lawmakers with criminal cases

Of the 12 special courts in designated states proposed last year to exclusively try state legislators and members of Parliament with criminal cases, only two, in these two states, are yet to be established.

india Updated: Aug 26, 2018 07:32 IST
Zia Haq
Zia Haq
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Politicians,India,Politicians with criminal record
According to the Association for Democratic Reforms, nearly 36% of all members of legislative assemblies and Parliament currently face criminal charges.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The law ministry is pushing Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh to set up special courts to speedily try elected representatives facing criminal charges, according to an official document seen by Hindustan Times.

Of the 12 special courts in designated states proposed last year to exclusively try state legislators and members of Parliament with criminal cases, only two, in these two states, are yet to be established. Following the late June note from the law ministry, Uttar Pradesh has notified the setting up of a special court, but work has yet to start on it.

State governments are primarily responsible for setting up special and fast-track courts in consultation with the judiciary, but the central government part funds them under a scheme that was framed following a Supreme Court order, a government official said, requesting anonymity.

According to the Association for Democratic Reforms, a transparency advocacy group, nearly 36% of all members of legislative assemblies and Parliament currently face criminal charges. Lawmakers from Uttar Pradesh top the list.To be sure, some of the cases are politically motivated.

On June 21, the justice department wrote to the chief secretaries of UP and Tamil Nadu, with so-called “departmental order reminders” to speedily set up these courts. To keep track of the progress of the trials in these cases, the justice department has also written to high courts for updated data on the number of cases transferred to these courts. The justice department sent an “updated status on the matter to Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet Secretariat on June 29”, the document states.

According to an affidavit filed by the Centre in the Supreme Court, 1,765 lawmakers elected in states and Parliament - or 36% of all lawmakers in the country -- face various criminal charges in 3,045 cases.

Following a 2016 petition in the Supreme Court that sought to bar convicted politicians from contesting elections, the top court on November 1, 2017 directed the central government to launch a scheme for setting up of special courts to exclusively try such cases. Under the scheme, the Centre has to “proportionately allocate” funds to various states in which the special courts are to be set up.

These states are: Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Bihar, Delhi, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh.

First Published: Aug 26, 2018 07:32 IST