NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court’s idea of setting up enough number of special courts for speedy trial of sitting and former MPs and MLAs facing criminal charges has gathered momentum with the endorsement of as many as 23 high courts, although Madras HC has reversed its 2018 backing for the SC directive.
Amicus curiae and senior advocate Vijay Hansaria and advocate Sneha Kalita have filed a report in the SC, which is scheduled to hear the matter on Wednesday, saying 23 HCs — Allahabad, Bihar, Bombay, Chhattisgarh, Calcutta, Delhi, Gauhati, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Orissa, Punjab and Haryana, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Telangana and Uttarakhand — have responded to SC orders and given details on various queries raised by the bench.

Times View

There’s a popular perception that politicians are able to circumvent or delay judicial proceedings using clout. Speedy closure to such cases is important to change the perception. The setting up of special courts should happen as quickly as possible. This will be good for politicians too. Either way, their careers would no longer be on hold. They, and the public, will know whether the cases against them are legitimate or politically motivated.

On October 6, an SC bench of Justices N V Ramana, Surya Kant and Hrishikesh Roy, tasked to implement the earlier orders passed by the court on this issue, had sought details from HCs about pending criminal cases against sitting and former MPs and MLAs and subsequently inquired about the adequacy of special courts to deal with the backlog of such cases in each state.
Madras HC, which had in September 2018 endorsed the setting up of special courts to expedite snail-paced trial against tainted politicians, submitted a report of the ‘Criminal Rules Committee’ of the HC comprising Justices P N Prakash, G Jayachandran and N Sathish Kumar and questioned the constitutionality of special courts. It recommended that Tamil Nadu be exempted from this SC devised mechanism for speedy trial against tainted politicians.
The Madras HC committee said, “Special courts can only be ‘offence centric’ and not ‘offender centric’. The existing court structure in Tamil Nadu, which is robust, is more than enough to deal with the cases involving MPs and MLAs. The HC CJ is requested to bring this fact to the notice of the SC and get exemption from establishing special courts… and permit restoration of status quo ante.”
Restoration of status quo ante, as sought by Madras HC, would mean politicians would enjoy a protracted trial. The amicus termed the Madras HC committee’s view as erroneous and said, “It’s on record that a large number of cases, including heinous offences, are pending in the courts not only for years but for decades.” “In such circumstances, a special mechanism for speedy trial of these cases cannot be flawed.”

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