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Nearly 5,000 criminal cases pending against sitting & former MPs, MLAs, SC told

UP tops list with 1,339 cases still pending for final disposal. Bihar is second. Amicus curiae Vijay Hansaria says Centre didn’t provide suggestions over the monitoring panel.

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New Delhi: The number of criminal cases pending in subordinate courts against sitting and former lawmakers rose from 4,110 in December 2018 to 4,984 in December 2021, a report presented to the Supreme Court Thursday revealed. In October 2020, this figure stood at 4,859.

Filed in a matter related to expeditious trial of Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs), the report provided a state-wise break of cases. 

Uttar Pradesh topped the list with 1,339 cases still pending for final disposal. This is an increase by 347 cases that were pending in the state in December 2018. However, compared to the October 2020 data, when 1,374 were under trial, the figure is a marginal improvement.

Between December 2018 and December 2021, UP could manage to dispose of 435 cases, of which 364 were heard by sessions court and 71 by magistrates.

“It is submitted that despite a series of directions by this Hon’ble Court and continuous monitoring, as many as 4984 cases are pending out of which 1899 cases are more than 5 years old. It may be noted that the total number of cases pending as on December 2018 were 4110; and as on October 2020 were 4859,” said the report by amicus curiae (friend of the court), senior advocate Vijay Hansaria.

Hansaria has been associated with the case since 2018, when the top court issued its first directive to set up special courts to expedite trials of cases against MPs and MLAs. 

In the last three years, SC has given out a set of directions in this regard, including asking the Centre to constitute a monitoring committee to evaluate the reasons for delay of investigation in cases involving MPs/MLAs. Another SC direction was to equip courts hearing such cases with necessary infrastructure for conduct of court proceedings through internet facilities.

The latest amicus curiae report added: “Even after disposal of 2775 cases after 4 December, 2018, the cases against MPs/MLAs have increased from 4122 to 4984. This shows that more and more persons with criminal antecedents are occupying the seats in the Parliament and the State Legislative Assemblies. It is of utmost necessity that urgent and stringent steps are taken for expeditious disposal of pending criminal cases.”

Of the 4,984 pending cases, 1,651 can be tried by sessions court — this means these are heinous criminal cases carrying a jail term of more than seven years, life imprisonment, or death. The remaining 3,322 cases are in magisterial cases.

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State of the states

Prepared on the basis of inputs received from all the high courts, the report shows that after UP, Bihar is the state where cases have increased considerably. 

From 304 cases in December 2018 the cases pending in various stages of trial shot up to 557 in October 2020 and then to 571 in December 2021. While 341 cases are before magistrate courts, 68 are being heard by sessions judges. Bihar added almost the same quantity of cases as it disposed — 163 — between December 2018 and December 2021.

According to the Bombay High Court’s information, 482 cases are yet to be adjudicated in Maharashtra. In December 2018, there were 320 such matters, but in October 2020 this number went up by 27 cases. However, with decisions in 218 cases in the last three years, the disposal rate in Maharashtra is a shade better than its pendency rate.

Kerala, where cases jumped from 312 in December 2018 to 324 in October 2020 and 401 in December 2021, the disposal of cases was significantly high. The state witnessed final judgement in 204 cases related to MPs/MLAs.

Similarly, Madhya Pradesh also fared well in terms of a disposal rate. While pending cases increased from 168 in December 2018 to 316 in December 2021, the state adjudicated 324 cases in the same time period.

In Telangana, such cases have got decided expeditiously, with 292 matters getting disposed of since December 2018. In the same period, the state experienced both increase and decrease in the pending matters. While the cases first spiked from 99 in December 2018 to 143, it then came down to 50 by December 2021.

No suggestions from Centre, says amicus

Hansaria also pointed out in the report that the Centre hasn’t provided any suggestions after the court’s 25 August 2021 order regarding constitution of a monitoring committee to ascertain the reasons for delay of investigation.

Furthermore, it has not even given any information to the amicus over the other direction to provide infrastructure facilities to the special courts hearing cases of MPs/MLAs.

Hansaria said it is necessary that all the courts trying these cases are equipped with necessary infrastructure for conduct of proceedings via internet facility and asked the court to reiterate its earlier direction to ensure that such matters are exclusively heard by special courts only.

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