Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 6
As 4,859 cases remain pending against sitting and former lawmakers across India, the Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed serious concern over political pressure on police in such cases.
“We have also been told that police sometimes do not enforce the laws because of pressure from legislators. This is a serious matter,” a Bench headed by Justice NV Ramana said.
The Bench was hearing a PIL filed by Delhi BJP leader and advocate Ashwini K Upadhyay in 2016 seeking directions for disposal of criminal cases against former and sitting legislators.
Upadhyay requested the top court to issue notice to the Centre on his prayer for lifetime ban on convicted politicians.
The Bench, however, chose to ignore it at this juncture, saying it was dealing with issues at hand.
The Bench told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that the Centre had not fully furnished the information sought by it last time and that all courts were asking for technical assistance for video conferencing facilities.
“We will also interact with the states. Funding may not be Your Lordships’ botheration,” Mehta assured the Bench which adjourned the matter for ten days.
It also asked the high courts to send their recommendations and action plan so it can be sent to the ministries concerned.
Senior advocate and Amicus Curiae Vijay Hansaria apprised the top court of the reports sent by various high courts and pointed out state-specific issues where improvements were needed.
Highlighting the rise in the number of criminal cases against sitting and former lawmakers in the last two years, a report filed in the Supreme Court on Monday suggested micro level strict monitoring by high courts for speedy disposal of cases against them.
“The total number of cases as per the latest reports is 4,859; whereas, the total number of cases as per report filed in March 2020 was 4,442. Similar reports filed by high courts in December 2018 disclosed total number of cases as 4,122,” the report filed by Hansaria stated.
“Thus the number of cases pending against MPs/MLAs (sitting and former) has increased over the past two years despite monitoring for expeditious disposal in the present proceedings,” the report submitted.
According to the report, 33 such cases were pending in Punjab, 42 in Haryana, 44 in Himachal Pradesh, 7 in Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh and one in Chandigarh. The trial of eight cases in Haryana and 10 cases in Punjab has been stayed by the high court, it added.
There were 25 cases pending at sessions level and 62 at magistrate level in Delhi which included matters under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and the like, it said.
The report urged the top court to direct the Centre to file a status report with regard to cases investigated/initiated by CBI, Enforcement Directorate and other central agencies in terms of the court’s September 16 order.
It suggested if any legislator didn’t appear before the court despite receipt of summons/warrant, he/she should be liable for contempt of the top court.