12 Spl courts to hear cases involving politicians, Centre tells SC

RSTV Bureau

Law-gen

The Centre on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that it will set up at least 12 special courts to decide cases involving politicians. Union Law Ministry, in its affidavit, informed it had allotted Rs 7.8 crore and framed a scheme to set up the special courts.

It, however, sought more time to collect data of pending cases against lawmakers in trial courts and high courts across the country.

The affidavit was in response to the top court’s November 1 order that asked the govt to draw a roadmap for special courts for speedy trial of lawmakers facing criminal charges.

The document, filed through Reeta Vasishta, Additional Secretary of Ministry of Law and Justice, said that as per the scheme, “12 special courts for a period of one year” shall be set up to dispose of cases against politicians. It also said this scheme was given in-principle approval by the Ministry of Finance on December 8.

The apex court had directed the Centre to place before it details regarding 1,581 cases involving MPs and MLAs, as declared by the politicians at the time of filing their nominations during the 2014 general elections.

It had asked the government to apprise it of how many among these 1,581 cases have been disposed of within one year and how many have ended either in conviction or acquittal.

File photo of Union Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Photo - PTI

File photo of Union Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
Photo – PTI

The government’s affidavit has said that the figure of 1,581 cases has been obtained from an NGO but the data as to in which courts these cases are pending is not available. “It is difficult to gather the facts and figures required for the purpose of answering the queries mentioned in the order of the court.

“Since the states in which these cases are pending is available, the ministry has initiated action by seeking to collect the requisite details from the respective state governments,” the affidavit said.

The Centre had earlier told the top court that decriminalisation of politics has to be done and it was not averse to the setting up of special courts to deal with cases involving politicians and speedy disposal of these matters.

It had informed the bench that the recommendations of the Election Commission and the Law Commission favouring life-time disqualification of politicians convicted in criminal cases was under the active consideration of the government.

The EC had supported the plea seeking life ban on politicians convicted in criminal cases and said they have already made recommendations on this to the Centre.

The top court was hearing petitions seeking to declare the provisions of the Representation of People (RP) Act, which bar convicted politician from contesting elections for six years after serving jail term, as ultra vires of the Constitution.

The Centre, in its affidavit, had said the prayer sought by the petitioner seeking life-time bar on convicted lawmakers was not maintainable and the plea should be dismissed.

The petition had also sought a direction to the Centre and the EC to fix minimum educational qualification and a maximum age limit for persons contesting polls.

(With inputs from PTI)