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