Special courts for fast-track trial of criminal cases against MPs, MLAs

Centre to set up special courts to try politicians

The affidavit filed by Additional Director Reeta Vashishta in the Law Ministry said, "The scheme for special courts now envisages setting up of 12 special courts for a period of one year to dispose of cases against political persons at an expenditure of Rs 7.80 crore". "The government has initiated action by seeking to collect the requisite details from the respective state governments", the Centre said in its affidavit. The petitioner, along with others, has challenged validity of disqualification period of six years for convicted persons from contesting polls after serving the sentence.

November 1, the Supreme Court had also directed the Centre to submit an update on the status of 13,500 criminal cases against MPs and MLAs to the court.

The document, filed through Reeta Vasishta, Additional Secretary, Law and Justice Ministry, said the scheme had been given in-principle approval by the Finance Ministry on December 8.

The government's response came after the apex court had on November 1 said the problem of criminalisation of politics can be solved by setting up special courts under a central scheme on line with the fast-track courts.

In the affidavit submitted by the Centre, it has agreed to set up 12 special courts at an expenditure of Rs 7.80 crores, Live Law reported. The court also wanted to know the precise number of cases that had been disposed of in the past year, in addition to the number of convictions and acquittals. "Though the Centre had written to the Election Commission on this, the poll body also expressed its inability to provide the data". The Centre and the Election Commission, however have been at odds over the duration of the ban.

As per the available details, 184 Lok Sabha and 44 Rajya Sabha MPs are facing criminal cases.

This includes two special courts for trying cases against MPs and one each in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. Clarifying the EC's stand, senior advocate Meenakshi Arora and lawyer Mohit D Ram said the poll watchdog had already recommended the Centre to amend an existing law to incorporate a life ban provision against convicted lawmakers. Even the NGO that provided the figure did not have the information, it said.

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