Need to expedite trial in cases against MPs and MLAs
- November 10, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Need to expedite trial in cases against MPs and MLAs
Subject : Polity
Context: The Supreme Court has issued guidelines to monitor the speedy disposal of criminal cases against Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs).
More about the news:
- The Supreme Court has directed High Courts to establish special benches for the expedited disposal of over 5,000 pending criminal cases against Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs).
- Emphasizing the impact of such cases on political democracy, the court ordered prioritization, giving preference to cases punishable by death or life imprisonment, followed by cases with imprisonment for five years or more.
- The court stressed that trials should not be adjourned except for compelling reasons.
- As of November 2022, there were 5,175 pending cases, with over 40% pending for more than five years.
- The move aims to bolster public trust in political representatives and enhance the efficiency of parliamentary democracy.
What is the Background of the case:
- Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay filed a plea in August 2016, emphasizing the need for expeditious resolution of cases involving lawmakers.
- The petition put forth a proposition for a lifetime ban on convicted politicians, including sitting legislators, barring them from contesting elections.
- This proposal presented an alternative to the current six-year ban stipulated in Section 8(3) of the Representation of People Act, 1951.
- The existing provision enforces a six-year restriction on individuals convicted of offenses carrying a minimum two-year sentence.
What was the judgment by the Supreme Court:
- Chief justices of various high courts are directed to initiate suo motu cases to oversee the swift resolution of pending criminal cases involving legislators.
- Such cases can be assigned to a special bench led by the Chief Justice or any designated bench.
- Regular listing of these cases may be undertaken as deemed necessary by the special bench.
- The special bench has the authority to seek assistance from the advocate general or prosecutor for legal insights.
- Priority should be accorded to cases against lawmakers carrying penalties of death or life imprisonment.
- Cases with sentences of 5 years or more will also be prioritized for expeditious resolution.
- High courts are entrusted with the task of formulating effective measures to monitor and accelerate the disposition of such cases. High courts may issue pertinent orders and directions for the efficient handling of these cases.
- High courts can engage the Principal District and Sessions Judge to manage the allocation of “subject cases” to appropriate courts.
- The Supreme Court has kept the issue of replacing the existing 6-year ban with a lifetime ban, as suggested by altering Section 8(3) of the Representation of People Act, open for consideration.
What is Representation of the People Act, 1951:
- Representation of the People Act, 1951 was enacted before first general elections. The act provides for the actual conduct of elections in India.
- It deals with the following aspects of the election:
- Actual conduct of elections;
- Administrative machinery for conducting elections;
- Election offences;
- Election disputes;
- Registration of political parties.
What are the Provisions that deal with disqualification under the Representation of the People Act:
- There are several provisions that deal with disqualification under the Representation of the People Act.
- Section 8(1A):Specific Offenses
- Addresses disqualification for specific offenses such as promoting enmity between groups, bribery, and undue influence or personation during elections.
- Section 8(2A):Offenses Related to Hoarding and Adulteration
- Lists offenses related to hoarding, profiteering, and adulteration of food or drugs.
- Includes convictions with a minimum six-month sentence under the Dowry Prohibition Act.
- Section 8(3A): Duration of Disqualification for Imprisonment
- Disqualifies individuals sentenced to imprisonment for at least two years.
- Disqualification starts from the conviction date and continues for an additional six years post-release.
- Section 9: Disqualification for Corruption and Government Contracts
- Deals with disqualification for dismissal due to corruption, disloyalty, or engagement in government contracts while holding a legislative position.
- Section 9(A): Disqualification for Government Contracts
- Pertains to disqualification for involvement in government contracts.
- Section 10: Disqualification for Office in Government Company
- Addresses disqualification for holding office in a government company.
- Section 10(A): Failure to Lodge Election Expense Accounts
- Address disqualification for failing to submit election expense accounts.
- Section 11: Removal or Reduction of Disqualification
- Covers the removal or reduction of disqualification periods.
- Sections 11(A) and 11(B): Disqualification Arising from Convictions and Corrupt Practices
- Address disqualification arising from convictions and corrupt practices and the removal of such disqualifications.