Finalise processes to set up special courts, SC tells Centre

Supreme Court of India

Supreme Court of India

A life ban on convicted MPs and MLAs was sought by the Election Commission of India, from contesting elections.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday (November 1) asked the government to finalise processes to set up special courts for speedy trial of cases against politicians.

The top court made these observations while 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 to the Constitution.

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The central poll body has earlier faced flak from the Supreme Court for not taking a clear stand on the BJP leader's appeal seeking to bar convicted politicians for life during a hearing in July.

A more recent study from the group also said that as many as 51 MPs and MLAs have declared cases of crime against women, including of alleged rape and abduction.

The ratio then was 34 percent of the total, as compared to 30 percent in the previous Lok Sabha, and 24 percent in the one before that, according to Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) - a private organisation that works for electoral and political reform and comes up with relevant facts and figures gleaned from reliable sources and disclosures before every election.

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The court cited a report revealing that in 2014, 1,581 lawmakers in the country had criminal cases pending against them. The bench said the trials against MPs and MLAs must be mandatorily concluded within a year and "this is in the interest of the nation". "In some cases it takes 20 years for a person to be convicted and by this time he serves four terms as a legislator", he said. SC wants to ensure that the corrupt politicians should not succeed in prolonging the trial by using their offices.

The Central government through Additional Solicitor General Atmaram Nadkarni submitted that the Union Government would not be averse to setting up of Special Courts to try criminal cases/offences involving political persons for expeditious disposal of the same.

Senior counsel Meenakshi Arora, appearing for the EC, said the Commission supported the petitioner to the extent that there should be de-criminalisation of politics. "You (Centre) should create new courts and infrastructure as at present, the Government of India is spending only one or two per cent of the budget (judicial system)", it said, adding that this would also reduce the huge pendency.

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