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SC orders HCs to register suo motu case for early disposal of 5,175 cases against MPs/MLAs

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday stressed at the compelling need to expedite disposal of as many as 5175 cases, pending against sitting and former MP/MLAs, saying those have a direct bearing on our political democracy.

A bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said confidence and trust of the constituency in their political representative, be it an MP or an MLA, is necessary for an interactive, efficient and effective functioning of a parliamentary democracy.

“However, such confidence is difficult to expect when figures, as indicated loom large in our polity. In fact, there are no two views about the compelling need to take up and dispose of the subject cases expeditiously,” the bench said.

Of 5,175 cases pending as of November, 2022, those pending formore than five years are as many as 2,116, which is more than 40 per cent of such pendencies. This is a large number, the bench said.

The court noted multiple factors, having a direct bearing on the disposal of the cases, and substantial variation from state to state, and district to district, with respect to each of these factors.

“The plurality of considerations and their asymmetry between State to State and even district to district, have a direct bearing on the decision or a measure that we may adopt for early disposal of the subject cases,” the bench said.

Noting dissimilarity of factors from State to State, making it difficult to form a uniform or standard guideline for trial courts across the country, the bench decided to leave it to the High Courts to evolve such method or apply such measure that they deem expedient for an effective monitoring of the subject cases.

The court thus directed every High Court across the country to register a suo motu case for effective monitoring and expeditious disposal of criminal cases against sitting and former MPs and MLAs and prioritise the cases punishable with death penalty or life term.

“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 High Courts shall create an independent tab on their website providing district-wise information about the details of the year of filing, number of subject cases pending and stage of proceedings. We make it clear that while monitoring the subject cases, the Special Bench may pass such orders or give such additional directions as are necessary for early disposal of the subject case,” 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, 15:54 IST)

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