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No More Criminals in Parliament: SC Orders Fast Track Trials of MPs and MLAs

The Supreme Court has directed the High Courts to set up Special Benches to monitor and expedite the criminal trials of lawmakers before the 2024 elections.

The Supreme Court has asked the Chief Justices of High Courts to set up Special Benches in their courts to oversee the criminal trials of MPs and MLAs, some of whom are facing serious charges like death or life imprisonment. To ensure the trials are completed before the General Elections in 2024.

On Thursday, November 9, a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud issued the directive. The case stemmed from a petition that amicus curiae Vijay Hansaria and attorney Ashwini Upadhyay submitted. 40% of the MPs and MLAs had criminal histories, they told the court.

Chief Justice Chandrachud said that the High Courts were the best authorities to monitor the trials, as they had the power to supervise their district courts under Article 227 of the Constitution. He said that the High Courts could easily track the status of each case.

The court directed the Chief Justices of High Courts to start suo motu cases in their courts, named ‘In re: Designated courts for MPs and MLAs,’ to monitor the quick disposal of criminal cases against the lawmakers.

The Special Benches of each High Court could be headed by the Chief Justice or by judges appointed by the Chief Justice.

The court also instructed the High Courts to assign Principal District Judges to allocate the cases to specially designated courts for effective disposal. The designated courts should give top priority to cases involving offenses punishable with death or life imprisonment, followed by cases with five years’ imprisonment or less. The courts should not grant any adjournments unless there are exceptional or unavoidable reasons.

The Special Benches of each State should keep a close watch on the progress of the trials by listing the suo motu cases regularly and by seeking information from the Principal District Judges through status reports.

The Special Benches could also seek the help of the Advocate Generals and Public Prosecutors of the States concerned.

The court further directed the High Courts to create a separate tab on their official websites, showing the district-wise details of the year of filing and the status of the criminal cases against the legislators.

The court also asked the Chief Justices of High Courts to hear and decide the cases in which the Special Benches stayed the trial and to pass suitable orders, including lifting the stay orders, to ensure the start and finish of the trial.

The court, however, did not rule on another plea for a life ban on lawmakers with previous convictions from contesting elections.

Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma is a seasoned Political Journalist with a deep passion for Indian Politics. With over a decade of experience in the field, he has established himself as a trusted… More »

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