Set up special courts to deal with cases involving politicians: SC tells Centre
The top court also sought details of criminal cases lodged against politicians between 2014 and 2017 and data of their disposal.india Updated: Nov 02, 2017 08:29 IST
The Supreme Court on Wednesday gave the Centre six weeks to come up with a roadmap for setting up special courts for speedy trial of lawmakers facing criminal charges, saying “this is in the interest of the nation”.
The court also sought the status of the 1,581 criminal cases mentioned in poll affidavits by the candidates in 2014, when elections were held for the Lok Sabha and eight state assemblies.
“In the interest of the nation, trials in such cases must end within a year,” a bench led by justice Ranjan Gogoi said, asking the Centre to specify the money it would set aside for such courts.
The order came on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyaya, who wants convicted politicians to be barred from contesting polls for life.
At present, a lawmaker guilty of a criminal offence punishable with two years or more in jail immediately loses the membership of Parliament or state assemblies. The court’s 2013 judgment also bars a convicted politician from contesting elections for six years from the date the sentence ends.
The Election Commission backed the PIL and also an affidavit it filed in March. “Such a step will go a long way in cleaning politics,” its lawyer Meenakshi Arora told the bench.
The Centre did not spell out its stand on Wednesday though during a previous hearing it told the court that it was opposed to a life ban. The recommendations of the poll panel and the law commission were under “active consideration”, it said.
The SC suggested a central scheme, like the one for fast-track courts, for courts that would exclusively hear criminal cases against politicians.
The Centre was told to share details of the 1,581 cases, including how many had ended within the one-year time frame set by the court for such cases on March 10, 2014. The government will also share details of fresh cases registered against politicians between 2014 and 2017.
The case will next be heard on December 13.
Criminalisation of politics remains a major concern in India, as several politicians facing charges of corruption, murder, rape and abduction continue to be lawmakers.
The Supreme Court has intervened on several occasions to trigger electoral reforms, including making it a must for candidates to declare their assets and list criminal cases against them, if any.