Special Courts for Cases Against Legislators: SC Aims to Decriminalise Politics?

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The Supreme Court has nudged the Central Government on a PIL filed by a Delhi BJP leader, and an Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyaya, seeking directions from the Supreme Court to expedite proceedings in the ‘1581’ cases pending against members of Parliament and the Members of Legislative Assemblies.

The Supreme Court has stirred another hornet’s nest which has been in the lurch since the Election Commission last tried to promote a blanket ban on candidates with criminal background from contesting elections.

The move of the election commission did not go down well with the legislators of all hues from the entire country. Meanwhile, in the SC the Government in its affidavit has cited the report of the 11th Finance Commission which advised setting up of 12 courts in the states where the number of cases range higher than 65. The government has also pegged an expenditure of Rs 65 lakh per court. The commission also stated that such fast track courts would deal with 165 cases annually.

The issue that has been dealt with here, is based on a report compiled by the ADR, (Association for Democratic Reforms). The Government also informed the Court, that there doesn’t exist any mechanism to monitor cases against the legislators and there also no data as how many fresh cases have been registered against legislators after 2014.

The Supreme Court has remained cautious and yet has ordered that the government must set up the courts at the earliest and wrap up all the pending cases within one year. Thus this move does not touch any other aspects of the laws that must be put in place to decriminalize politics.

The immunity provisions that legislators enjoy during their term may not allow the entire process bearing great results. The major political parties may also see themselves in a fix if their sitting legislators are incriminated and found guilty. The Court has also allowed the EC to remain at ease despite its lack of data regarding the litigation pending against the legislators.

The EC needs to be given more powers which has not been talked of in the judgment. Legislators involved in litigation must deserve a clean chit first to be able to contest elections, while any kind of criminal litigation pending must be a blanket ban on their seeking election.

The Supreme Court has set its foot a great path that will eventually led to decriminalizing the politics that is being pursued in India. The Representation of People’s Act must be one that makes the powers with the EC more effective assuring quality legislators being put up by parties.

There must also be a regulation on the profession of a Politician, which remains the least regulated professions, and is the need of the hour to reflect the apt consciousness of the masses.

The Supreme Court has also observed the apt need to fast track the cases on an urgent need as these cases may not be genuine, but may just be a move aimed at marring the reputation of the ‘imandaar neta’.

The direction is appreciated, while the response of the Government and the EC are not in line with the promise of ensuring politics free from anti-social elements.

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