Devise procedure to screen prosecutors before they are posted to appear in cases against MPs/ MLAs: Karnataka High Court

The State government, Central government and all prosecuting agencies should ensure that the public prosecutors would be able to effectively and efficiently deal with cases (against MLAs/MPs), the High Court said.
Devise procedure to screen prosecutors before they are posted to appear in cases against MPs/ MLAs: Karnataka High Court
lawyers

The Central and States governments should devise a procedure to screen prosecutors before they are posted to appear before special courts which hear criminal cases against Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs), the Karnataka High Court ordered on Friday.

A Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Vishwajith Shetty said that considering the nature of cases which are heard by special courts, public prosecutors appointed should be able to efficiently deal with the same for which a screening mechanism could be devised.

"Considering the nature of cases against the special courts, it is the responsibility of the State government, Central government and all prosecuting agencies to ensure that the public prosecutors would be able to effectively and efficiently deal with cases (against MLAs/MPs). Therefore, it will be appropriate if all the investigating Agencies including State and Central Government device a procedure of screening of prosecutors before they are posted to appear before the Special court constituted under the orders of the Apex Court," the High Court ruled.

The Court, however, did not get into the nuances of the same instead leaving it to the Central and State governments to take appropriate steps.

"We direct both, the Central government and State government to take appropriate decision on this aspect to avoid any controversy and to ensure that the functioning of the Special Court is effective," the order said.

The Court was hearing a suo motu case initiated by it in view of the directions issued by the Supreme Court urging Chief Justices of the High Courts to formulate an action plan to expeditiously deal with pending cases against legislators.

Last week, the Court had asked the State government to place on record, details of public prosecutors appointed for conducting cases against MPs and MLAs before special courts.

lawyers
Expeditious disposal of cases against MPs, MLAs: Karnataka High Court seeks details of public prosecutors appointed

During the hearing on Friday, the Court was informed that public prosecutors having over 11 years of experience would be appointed as prosecutors in cases against MLAs and MPs. However, there is no screening committee as of now to select the prosecutors, Amicus Curiae Aditya Sondhi submitted.

In this regard, Sondhi suggested that a High Court judge be appointed to vet the applications of public prosecutors.

The Bench also questioned the Centre on the screening process for appointment of public prosecutors in cases in which Central agencies such as CBI, Income Tax Department or SFIO are the prosecuting agencies.

During the hearing, the Court underscored the importance of having able and experienced public prosecutors in cases against MLAs and MPs.

"Why are special Courts created for dealing with cases against MPs and MLAs? There is some significance to the directions of the Supreme Court......Take for instance, in some cases before the High Court, AAG or AG appears. A special treatment is given for those cases. Now, is it not necessary that same scrutiny is made before prosecutors are appointed in cases against MLAs and MPs," the Bench demanded.

At this juncture, the Additional Advocate General Dhyan Chinnappa expressed reluctance in appointing persons from external agencies as public prosecutors.

The Bench went on to clarify that,

"The State on its own must come up with a machinery to select prosecutors - with checks and balances."

The Court was further told that a notification has been issued to constitute a second special court for dealing with cases against MLAs and MPs.

lawyers
Expeditious disposal of cases against MPs, MLAs: Karnataka High Court seeks details of public prosecutors appointed

The matter will be heard next on January 12, 2021.

Related Stories

Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news
www.barandbench.com