New Delhi, February 4
Despite the Supreme Court passing a series of directions to rid politics of criminals, the number of persons with criminal antecedents entering the Legislature has witnessed a significant rise.
The total number of cases pending against sitting and former lawmakers has gone up from 4,122 to 4,984 between December 2018 and October 2020, the Supreme Court has been informed.
Out of the total 4,984 cases, 1,899 cases are more than five years old, amicus curiae and senior advocate Vijay Hansaria said in his latest report filed in the top court which has been hearing a PIL filed by Delhi BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking expeditious trial of cases against sitting and former MPs/MLAs.
“Even after disposal of 2775 cases after December 4, 2018, the cases against MPs/MLAs have increased from 4122 to 4984. This shows that more and more persons with criminal antecedents are occupying the seats in the Parliament and the State Legislative Assemblies. It is of utmost necessity that urgent and stringent steps are taken for expeditious disposal of pending criminal cases”, Hansaria said in the report.
The Amicus Curiae suggested setting up a monitoring committee headed by a former Supreme Court judge or Chief Justice of a High Court to monitor the investigation of cases being pursued by central agencies such as CBI, ED and NIA and to evaluate the reasons for the delay in investigation.
Hansaria complained that no response had been filed by the Centre in terms of the August 25, 2021 order on expeditious investigation/trial of cases, providing of infrastructure facilities to the courts, and constitution of the Monitoring Committee.
“The trial courts may be directed to pass a specific order in all pending cases that the benefit of the Witness Protection Scheme 2018, has been made available to the witnesses in terms of the order dated November 4, 2020”, he said.
Hansaria wanted the top court to direct the Centre to provide funds for ensuring smooth functioning of courts through virtual mode by facilitating the availability of video conference facilities.
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