Delhi High Court Orders Expeditious Disposal Of Criminal Cases Against MPs, MLAs

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Delhi High Court Orders Expeditious Disposal Of Criminal Cases Against MPs, MLAs

New Delhi:

The Delhi High Court on Thursday ordered expeditious disposal of around 200 pending criminal cases against former and serving lawmakers, especially those where there is a stay on trial for over six months.

A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan, which was hearing a case it had initiated on its own (suo motu) about disposal of criminal cases against Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs), directed that a monthly report be supplied to it in relation to the pendency and progress of these cases, along with reasons for delay, while ensuring that sufficient infrastructure and technological facilities are provided to the lower courts designated to deal with them.

The counsel for the high court and the amicus curiae appointed to assist the court in the matter said as of November, there were about 100 odd cases of former MPs and MLAs pending in the high court, and the number of such cases in the designated courts of sessions judge and additional chief metropolitan magistrate stood at 64 and 49, respectively.

“Having considered the Supreme Court’s order (of November 9) in letter and spirit, following directions are issued for disposal of criminal cases against legislators,” said the court and directed that the cases be heard by trial courts on a daily basis or at least once a week.

On November 9, the Supreme Court had issued a slew of directions to high courts while asking them to accord priority to cases pending against lawmakers.

“In case any revision petitions regarding such matters are pending before designated special courts, every endeavour shall be made to decide the same within 6 months,” the high court bench, also comprising Justice Mini Pushkarna, said.

“Cases in which orders of stay of trial have been passed and are continuing for more than six months are directed to be expedited and disposed of by the concerned benches of this court,” it ordered.

The bench directed the designated courts to scrupulously comply with the directions issued by Supreme Court as well as the high court in relation to disposal of cases against MPs/MLAs.

“The monthly report (from Rouse Avenue Courts housing the designated courts) shall include a short summary of work done in those cases in the month and action formulated for expeditious disposal of the said cases, give specific reason if any for delay in the disposal of the said cases,” it stated.

The court also directed that an independent tab be created on its website to provide information pertaining to the cases, their pendency, stage etc.

It directed that the registrar general of the high court shall file a status report in the matter every two months and listed it for hearing next on February 26.

In October 2020, the Delhi High Court had initiated suo motu proceedings on the Supreme Court’s direction to all high courts to monitor the pending criminal cases against MPs and MLAs and asked the Centre, Delhi government and the Delhi High Court registry to state the steps taken by them about it.

In April last year, the high court had directed the trial courts to give priority to the cases relating to the sitting and the former MPs/MLAs and asked its administrative side to file a monthly status report with respect to the status of pendency of such cases.

The court had then appointed senior advocate Sandeep Sethi to act as an amicus curiae to assist in the proceedings and suggest further measures to ensure expeditious disposal of such cases.

The Supreme Court had in September 2020 asked the chief justices of all high courts to forthwith list before an appropriate bench all pending criminal cases involving sitting and former lawmakers where stay had been granted.

The direction came on a petition filed in 2016 which raised the issue of inordinately delay in disposal of criminal cases against former and sitting lawmakers.

The Supreme Court had issued the direction after observing that there has been “no substantial improvement” in disposal of pending criminal cases against them. 

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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