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Supreme Court issues guidelines to High Courts for expeditious disposal of criminal cases against MPs, MLAs

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a slew of directions for the High Courts to ensure expeditious disposal of criminal cases against Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs).

The Bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Justice J.B. Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra observed that it would be difficult for this court to form a uniform guideline for trial courts to dispose of these cases due to presence of multiple factors and left it to the High Courts to evolve measures for effective monitoring of such cases invoking its powers under Article 227.  

However, the Apex Court issued a slew of directions for the High Courts to effectively monitor the pending criminal cases against MPs and MLAs.

The Bench led by the CJI said that Chief Justice of the High Courts should institute a suo motu case to be heard by a Special Bench either led by the Chief Justice or a Bench assigned by him to monitor such cases. 

The Apex Court directed that the Special Bench may list the matter at regular intervals as felt necessary. 

The High Court may issue such orders and directions as necessary for expeditious and effective disposal of the cases. The Special Bench may consider calling upon the Advocate General or Prosecutor to assist the court, it noted.

The top court of the country directed that the Special Bench should give priority to criminal cases against MPs/MLAs punishable with death or life imprisonment, besides cases punishable with imprisonment for five years or more. The trial court shall not adjourn the cases except for rare and compelling reasons, it added.

It said the High Court may require a Principal District and Sessions Judge to bear the responsibility of allocating the subject cases to such court(s). He may be called upon by the High Court to send reports on such intervals.

The concerned Principal District and Sessions Judge should ensure sufficient infrastructural facilities for the designated court and also enable it to adopt such technology as expedient for effective functioning. 

The Apex Court further directed that the High Courts should create an independent tab on their website providing district-wise information about the details of year of the filing, number of subject cases pending and the stage of proceedings in such cases.

Noting that it was good that the petitioner (Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay) brought the matter to this court, the Apex Court disposed of the first prayer in the PIL. 

It observed that this writ petition would now be listed for hearing on the question of the Representation of Peoples (RP) Act.

Upadhyay had filed the writ petitin in 2016

petition filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay in 2016 seeking debarment for life from contesting elections for politicians convicted in criminal cases.

The petition further challenged the constitutional validity of Section 8 of the Act, which confined the period of disqualification to contest elections for a period of six years since the release of the convict.

(Case title: Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay vs Union of India and Anr)

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