The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked 25 states and Union Territories (UTs) as well as the high courts across the country to place before it “full and complete updated information” about the status of criminal cases pending against MPs and MLAs.
The top court also asked these states/UTs and Registrars General of all high courts to place before it the “precise number” of such pending cases required to be transferred to the special courts meant to deal exclusively with cases involving lawmakers.
It has sought these details by the next date of hearing on 10 October.
A Bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Navin Sinha reportedly noted that 12 special courts have already been constituted in 11 states.
The apex court also noted that 25 states and UTs ~ including Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Punjab and Chandigarh ~ have not provided any information in pursuance to its orders of 1 November 2017 and 21 August 2018.
“We direct the chief secretaries of the above mentioned (25) states and Union Territories as well as the Registrars General of the High Courts in each of the states and Union Territories to lay before us full and complete updated information as required in terms of our order dated November 1, 2017 and August 21, 2018,” the Bench ordered.
“We specifically direct the two authorities, namely the chief secretaries of the states and the registrars general of the High Courts, to lay before us the precise number of cases which are presently pending and required to be transferred to the special courts; whether the 12 special courts set up are functional and whether in view of the volume of cases that would be required to be transferred to the special courts, there is the necessity of setting up of additional courts,” the Bench said.
Referring to the affidavit filed by the Department of Justice, senior counsel Sajan Poovayya, appearing for petitioner and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, said 12 special courts have been set up in 11 states but there was no information as to how many of the pending criminal cases against lawmakers there have been transferred to these courts.
According to the government’s affidavit, the total number of cases transferred, disposed of and pending in these special courts are reportedly1233, 136 and 1,097 respectively. Poovayya pointed out that the apex court had noted in its 1 November 2017 order that there were 1,581 cases involving MPs and MLAs, as declared at the time of filing of the election nomination papers in 2014, but the number of cases against them might have increased this year.
In its November 2017 order the top court had also sought details about any further criminal cases lodged against any existing or former MPs and MLAs during 2014-2017.
The Centre’s affidavit has stated that one special court each has been set up in states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Telengana, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Two such courts have been set up in Delhi, with the affidavit adding that information from the remaining states and high courts have not been received so far.