New Delhi: In 2014, the Supreme Court ordered that criminal trials of all MPs and MLAs must conclude within a year. But a report prepared by amicus curiae Vinay Hansaria and Sneha Kalita has brought to fore the impunity with which the judgment has been observed by courts at all levels.
The report was collated on the orders of a bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, which wished to examine the impact of the court's verdict on the pending criminal trials against sitting and former lawmakers.
And the report has thrown up a grim picture.
Out of a total of 4122 criminal cases, 2324 cases linger in courts against siting MPs and MLAs.
The report showed glaring delays in deciding cases as some of them remained pending for over three decades.
Out of the aforesaid 4122 number of cases, in 1991 cases even charges have not been framed. Many cases are pending due to stay granted by the higher courts - there are at least 264 such matters.
- Trial of Kerala MLA MM Mani in a murder case lodged in 1982 is yet to begin.
- Former Karnataka chief minister and BJP leader BS Yeddyurappa has 18 cases against him. This includes 10 cases where the punishment may go up to life term, but the chargesheet is yet to be filed in any of them.
- Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has a corruption case against him since 2007 but the charges are yet to be framed.
- Not one out of 22 criminal cases, including 10 for murder, against former MP Ateeq Ahmed has been wrapped up in last the 16 years.
- Charges have not been framed in three TADA cases against sitting NCP MLA from Gujarat, Kandhalbhai Sarmanbhai Jadeja.
- Four sitting and former MLAs in Odisha have more than 100 criminal cases pending against them
“Pendency of cases against the legislators presents a gloomy picture in almost all the states, in as much as, many cases are for offences punishable with imprisonment for life are pending for decades. In large number of cases even charges have not been framed," regretted senior lawyer Hansaria in his report.
Finding favour with the apex court's previous order on setting up special courts for expediting trials of sitting and former legislators, the report added that the high court concerned should be made accountable for taking stock of the situation and resolve all procedural problems to ensure speedy disposal. It further said that high courts should be asked to furnish progress reports in the top court periodically.
The Supreme Court will take up the report by the amicus on Tuesday.
The bench is hearing a PIL by Supreme Court lawyer and activist Ashwini Upadhyay, who has sought a life-time ban of convicted legislators.
While issuing direction for setting up special courts, the top court had then asked the government to collect data about number of criminal cases pending against MPs and MLAs, and the status of the trials.
Subsequently, the ministry wrote to all high courts for supplying statistics, based on which the report has been readied.