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HCs to form special bench to monitor cases against MPs/MLAs: SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed every High Court across the country to register a suo motu case for effective monitoring and expeditious disposal of criminal cases involving sitting and former MPs and MLAs.

A bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra issued a slew of directions, including prioritising the cases punishable with death penalty or life term, for speedy disposal of criminal cases against MPs/ MLAs on a PIL filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.

The court pointed out that it would be difficult for it to lay down uniform guidelines for trial courts across the country to dispose of these cases, and left it on the high courts to evolve measures for effective monitoring of such cases.

“The high courts have been dealing with these issues on the judicial and administrative side and they are alive to the situation which exists in each of their district courts…. We deem it appropriate to leave it to the high courts to evolve such methods or apply such measures for effective monitoring of such cases,” the bench said.

Among the directions, the bench said the chief justice of the high court shall register a suo moto case, regarding designated courts for MPs/MLAs, to monitor early disposal of criminal cases pending against the lawmakers.

“The suo moto case will be heard by a special bench presided over by the chief justice or a bench assigned by him. The special bench hearing the suo moto case may list the matter at regular intervals….the high court may issue orders and directions necessary for expeditious or effective disposal of cases,” the bench said.

The court also ordered that the special bench may consider calling upon the Advocate General or public prosecutor to assist the court and the high court may require the principal and district sessions judge to bear the responsibility of allocating cases to courts.

“The designated courts should give priority first to criminal cases against MP/MLAs punishable with death or life imprisonment. Then, cases with five years or more…the chief justice may list cases in which order of stay of trial have been passed before the special bench to ensure that appropriate orders including vacation of stay orders are passed for commencement and conclusion of trial,” the bench said.

The court disposed of Upadhyay’s plea with regard to prayer for speedy disposal of cases against the lawmakers.

It, however, decided to consider another prayer for a lifetime ban on convicted politicians including sitting lawmakers from contesting elections as opposed to the current six-year ban, on the next date.

(Published 09 November 2023, 06:27 IST)

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