The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed anguish over the Centre’s failure to provide details about the criminal cases pending against lawmakers and politicians in various courts across the country.
A bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Navin Sinha and Justice K.M. Joseph said the “Union of India is unprepared” as it had not given the information sought by the court.
“The government is compelling us to pass certain orders which we do not want to at this stage. The Union of India is unprepared. We express our anguish,” said the bench.
The bench posted the matter for further hearing after one week.
The affidavit filed by the government did not have any specific details regarding the number of cases pending in each fast-track courts already set up.
In the affidavit, a top official of the Law and Justice Ministry stated: “This department is regularly taking up the matter with the authorities concerned for furnishing the information regarding the cases transferred/ disposed/ pending in the said courts.”
The affidavit only furnished a chart of communications and not contained the number of cases pending against the lawmakers and politicians.
The court was hearing a PIL by an advocate and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ashwani Kumar Upadhyay seeking lifetime ban on convicted lawmakers and setting up of special courts for trying lawmakers accused of criminal offences.
On the last date of hearing on August 21, the bench had directed the Centre to file a status report by August 28 about the number of cases pending before the already set up special courts.
On November 1, 2017, the top court had directed the Centre to set up special fast-track courts to exclusively try lawmakers and politicians facing criminal cases, so that the trial in such cases is expedited and completed in one year.
The court had also sought the status of trial in 1,581 cases involving elected representatives and the outcomes where the trials have been concluded.
It had sought details on how many of these have ended in acquittal or conviction of MPs and MLAs, as the case may be, while also calling for details of the fresh criminal cases filed since 2014 involving politicians and sitting lawmakers, their stage of trial and the outcome if the trial has concluded.