SC guidelines on speedy disposal of Cases against Lawmakers

SC guidelines on speedy disposal of Cases against Lawmakers

News: Recently, The Supreme Court issued guidelines to monitor the speedy disposal of criminal cases against Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs).

• The plea filed in August 2016 sought speedy disposal of cases involving lawmakers. It also sought a lifetime ban on convicted politicians, including sitting legislators, from contesting elections rather than subjecting them to the six-year ban, as laid down under Section 8(3) of the Representation of People Act, 1951.
• Section 8 of the RP Act, 1951, mainly deals with the disqualification of lawmakers on conviction for certain offences.

What has the court ruled?
The Bench said that the “confidence and trust of the constituency in their political representative” is necessary for the effective functioning of a parliamentary democracy. It laid down the following guidelines for monitoring the early disposal of criminal cases against lawmakers.
• Registration of suo motu cases by the chief justices of various high courts across the country to monitor the quick disposal of pending criminal cases against legislators.
• Priority shall be given to cases against lawmakers that are punishable with death or life imprisonment. Besides this, cases punishable with 5 years imprisonment or more will also be prioritised.
• Trial courts cannot adjourn such cases unless there are rare and compelling reasons for the same.
• Sufficient infrastructure facilities and the adoption of technology should also be ensured for these designated courts by the principal district and session judges.
• The HCs were directed to create an “independent tab” on their website with district-wise information about the details of such cases, including the year, at what stage the proceedings are, etc.

However, this isn’t the first time SC has issued guidelines. Earlier as well in its 2015 ruling
• “Public Interest Foundation vs. Union of India,” the top court directed that trials of sitting legislators facing charges against them for offences relating to Section 8 of the RP Act should be concluded “as speedily and expeditiously” as possible.
• Adding that the trial’s duration cannot exceed one year from the date on which the charges were framed, the court had also suggested conducting the trials on a “day-to-day” basis.

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