The Supreme Court Tuesday voiced concern over reluctance of police to arrest and produce lawmakers against whom criminal cases are pending and termed it as a serious matter. The top court said that number of cases are pending against Members of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies (MPs and MLAs) as police officers often do not enforce laws due to pressure from the legislators.
We have been told that sometimes the police is not enforcing the laws, in light of pressure of legislators accused. We understand this is a serious matter, observed a bench headed by Justice N V Ramana, which also noted that various High Courts have been asking for video conferencing facilities for disposal of pending cases. The bench, also comprising Justices Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose, also sought fresh details of cases against lawmakers and the high courts have to provide the details with regard to number of video conferencing facilities in states for speedy disposal of cases.
Senior advocate Vijay Hansaria, who has been appointed as amicus curiae, said despite monitoring of cases, the number of cases pending against legislators is increasing and monitoring at micro level, by the High Courts is necessary to ensure expeditious disposal. Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, who is the original petitioner, urged the bench to issue notice on the issue of “life time ban" on the legislators accused of serious crimes.
However, the apex court said that it is currently dealing with the issues at hand. The apex court was earlier told that criminal cases against sitting and former lawmakers have increased over the last two years therefore strict monitoring, at micro level, by the High Courts is necessary to ensure expeditious disposal of the cases against legislators.
The top court was apprised that the total number of cases against sitting and former lawmakers as per the latest reports are 4,859 while the total number of cases as per earlier reports filed in March 2020 were 4,442. “The number of cases pending against MPs/ MLAs (sitting and former) have increased over the last two years despite monitoring for expeditious disposal in the present proceedings. “It is, therefore, submitted that strict monitoring, at a micro-level, by the High Courts is necessary to ensure expeditious disposal of the cases against legislators," the report filed by senior Hansaria, assisted by advocate Sneha Kalita, had said. The report was submitted in a petition which was filed in 2016 and raised the issue of inordinate delay in disposal of criminal cases against former and sitting lawmakers.
Commenting on the action plan submitted by high courts to ensure expeditious disposal of the cases, the report stated that some of the High Courts favoured constitution of Special Courts in each District, both at Sessions and Magisterial level.