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4,442 pending cases against MPs, MLAs across India; 2,556 cases against sitting legislators - Amicus Curiae informs Supreme Court

The submissions came on directions by the Court in the PIL filed by Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking the speedy disposal of criminal cases against former MPs and MLAs

Debayan Roy

Amicus Curiae, Senior Advocate Vijay Hansaria has informed the Supreme Court that a total of 4,442 cases are pending against Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) across India out of which 2,556 sitting legislators are yet to face trial.

The Amicus curiae report filed in the top court through Advocate Sneha Kalita is in pursuance to the directions issued by the Supreme Court in the PIL filed by Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking the speedy disposal of criminal cases against former and present MPs and MLAs. High Courts across the country had been directed to compile a list of criminal cases against former and present legislators.

"There are total 4442 cases pending against MPs/ MLAs (sitting and former) in different courts including Special Courts for MPs and MLAs. In 2556 cases sitting legislators are accused persons. The number of legislators involved are more than total number of cases since there are more than one accused in one case, and the same legislator is an accused in more than one case."

reads the affidavit

The affidavit states that the top court, by its order dated March 5, 2020, had directed that the Registrar Generals of all High Courts would have to furnish information regarding cases pending against MPs/ MLAs. In terms of the said order, all the High Courts have sent the information in the prescribed format.

The affidavit by the amicus mentions that there are 413 cases involving offences which are punishable with imprisonment for life, out of which in 174 cases sitting MPs/ MLAs are accused.

"Other cases include offences under Prevention of Corruption Act 1988, Prevention of Money Laundering Act 2002, Arms Act 1959, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984, defamation under section 500 IPC, cheating under section 420 IPC," reads the report

Uttar Pradesh has the maximum number of pending cases against MPs and MLAs, pegging at 1,217 pending cases, out of which sitting legislators are accused in 446 cases.

The trial in 85 cases has been held up due to stay granted by higher courts. One Special Court was constituted at Allahabad in terms of the directions issued in the present case. Presently, the said Special Court is trying cases relating to incidents in adjoining 12 districts.

Bihar comes a close second with 531 pending cases, out of which in 256 cases, sitting legislators are accused.

The amicus report mentions that the High Court has designated the Additional District and Sessions Judge III and the seniormost ACJM as Special courts in each district for the trial of sessions and magisterial cases respectively. These special courts deal with other cases pending before them as well.

73 cases relate to offences punishable with life imprisonment. Of these, 30 cases are against sitting legislators and 43 against former legislators.

Orissa tallies third with 331pending cases, out of which in 220 cases, sitting legislators are accused.

32 cases relate to offence punishable with life imprisonment. 10 cases are against sitting legislators and 22 against former legislators.

The report also carried a series of suggestions to ensure the speedy trial of cases in which MPs or MLAs are accused, including the constitution of special courts in every district to handle such cases.

The amicus has suggested in his report that these special courts should prioritise cases dealing with offences punishable with death/ life imprisonment; offences punishable with imprisonment for 7 years or more; and other offences, in that order.

“No adjournment shall be granted except in rare and exceptional circumstances and for reasons to be recorded. The superintendent of police of [the] respective district shall be responsible to ensure production of accused persons before the respective courts on the dates fixed and the execution of NBWs [non-bailable warrants] issued by the courts

reads the Amicus Curiae's submissions

The report also notes that "witness protection in all such cases is essential having regard to the vulnerability of the witnesses and the influence exercised by the legislators facing criminal trials."

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