New Delhi, Sep 17 The Supreme Court said that pending criminal cases against sitting and former MPs/MLAs is a matter of paramount public importance, and though it has passed various orders for speedy dispensation of justice, yet the backlog has not declined.
As many as 4,442 cases are pending against sitting and former MPs and MLAs in different courts.
A bench, headed by Justice N.V. Ramana and comprising Justices Surya Kant and Hrishikesh Roy, said that the court "was of the opinion that such special consideration was required not only because of the rising wave of criminalisation that was occurring in the politics in the country, but also due to the power that elected representatives (sitting or former) wield, to influence or hamper effective prosecution".
The top court observed as legislators are the repositories of the faith and trust of their electorate, there is a necessity to be aware of the antecedents of the person that is/was elected.
"Ensuring the purity of democratically elected institutions is thus the hallmark of the present proceedings," it noted.
However, the top court said that despite all the initiatives taken by the court, there has been no substantial improvement in the situation when it comes to the disposal of pending criminal cases against sitting/former legislators (MPs and MLAs).
The bench noted that after collecting data on pending criminal cases against MPs/MLAs, along with suggestions from Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and the amicus curiae, it is better placed to assess the existing situation.
The order has come on the PIL by BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, who urged the court to give directions for speedy trial of criminal cases against sitting and former lawmakers.
"One of the main objectives behind issuing notice in the present writ petition, and the various orders that have been passed time to time by this court, was to ensure that criminal prosecutions against elected representatives (MPs and MLAs) are concluded expeditiously," said the top court.
The Solicitor General had submitted on behalf of the Centre that all pending cases which have been stayed by the High Courts, must be concluded within a time bound manner, preferably within one month, and offered all the possible assistance to fast-track these cases.
He also submitted that central agencies like the CBI and the ED will pursue matters effectively and they will ensure that any pending investigation will reach its logical conclusion. He further submitted that appropriate action would be taken by the nodal departments against any officer responsible for any unreasonable delay.
( With inputs from IANS )
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