Recently, the Supreme Court of India has decided to examine questions regarding the legal jurisdiction of Special Courts set up to exclusively prosecute MPs and MLAs for various offences. (Special courts for MPs and MLA)
- Supreme Court in 2017 asked the Center to frame a central scheme for setting up of special criminal courts exclusively to deal with criminal cases involving political persons.
- Three judge bench of the apex court led by Justice N V Ramana is looking at ways to expedite these trials pending for years, in some cases , for decades.
- Over 4400 criminal trials are pending against legislators. Of this over 2500 trials involve sitting legislators.
- Cases against the legislators include that of corruption, money laundering, damage to public property, defamation and cheating.
- A large number of cases for violation of Section 188 IPC for willful disobedience and obstruction of orders promulgated by public servants.
- There are more than 400 cases in respect of offences which are punishable with imprisonment for life, out of which in 174 cases sitting MPs/MLAs are accused.
- A large number of cases were pending at the appearance stage and even non bailable warrants issued by courts have not been issued.
- According to report of Amicus curiae to Supreme Court, there is no uniformity in setting up Special Courts to try MPs and MLAs throughout the country.
Special courts for MPs and MLA
- The Supreme Court would examine whether these Special Courts deprive the accused of their right to a rung of appeal.
- The argument is that some of these cases are triable by Magistrates.
- In the normal course, if an accused has failed before the Magistrate, he or she could file an appeal against the decision before the Sessions Court.
- In such cases, the trial judge is the Magistrate and the Sessions Court is the first appellate court and the High Court the second appellate court.
- Petitioners have argued that a Special Court would have the powers of a Sessions Court.
- If the case of an MLA or MP whose offence can be tried by a Magistrate is directly placed before a Special Court, the accused would lose his right to defend his case before a Magistrate and also is stripped of his right to make his first appeal before a Sessions Court.
- Among the suggestions that came up was whether there should be special Magistrate courts along with special Sessions court in every jurisdiction.
- A Special Bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana, Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant have agreed to hear the issues on November 24.
NEED FOR SPECIAL COURTS
- Good Governance – Legislators with clean background can make good laws and provide better governance in comparison to tainted laegislators.
- End to Criminalisation of politics – Speedy trial of accused legislators can end criminalisation of politics which is one of the biggest threat to democracy and law and order.
- Faith in Judiciary – conviction of legislators can increase public faith in judiciary which is often seen as powerless in front of powerful persons who continue to get elected despite being accused of heinous crimes.
- Public faith in democracy – will be increased as legislators who can truly represent interests of people and work on development can be elected.
- Cleanse the system – of corrupt and criminal elements and contribute to growth of nation
- Decrease in corruption – Large number of legislators are accused under Prevention of Corruption Act and their conviction can reduce corruption
- Free and Fair election – Decrease in criminalisation of politics and use of money and muscle power by tainted legislators and make elections free and fair.
- Rule of law – will be increased as legislators who are law makers have clean background
About special courts
- Special Courts were meant to speedily dispose of cases pending for long.
- Similar to statutes mandating Special Courts to try particular offences, the State governments, too, in consultation with High Courts, can designate competent judicial officers as Special Courts.
- Further, the apex court under Article 142 of the Constitution could direct the formation of Special Courts.
- The Supreme Court of India in its Order dated the 01st November, 2017 had directed the Union Government to prepare a scheme for setting up of Courts exclusively to deal with criminal cases involving political persons on the lines of Fast Track Courts (FTCs) which were set up by the Central Government for a period of five years and extended further.
- Accordingly, 12 Special Courts (02 in NCT of Delhi and 01 each in the state of UP, Bihar, WB, MP, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh,Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Kerala) were constituted.
- 10 Special Courts (except special courts of Bihar and Kerala) are presently functional
Source: The Hindu