The Centre on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court that it has decided to set up 12 special courts to deal exclusively with criminal cases against lawmakers and politicians.
In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the Centre said a scheme has been framed for setting up these courts to dispose off cases against political persons. The scheme for a one-year period will involve an expenditure of Rs 7.80 crore.
"On December 2, the Finance Ministry's Department of Expenditure have in-principle approval for the same," the Centre said in response to a 2014 court direction to set up special courts to exclusively handle the criminal cases against lawmakers and politicians so that trials are expedited and completed in one year.
The top court gave the directions on 1 November on a public interest litigation by lawyer and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay who sought a lifetime ban on convicted lawmakers and setting up of special courts for trying lawmakers accused of criminal offences.
The court had directed the government to frame a scheme for setting up such courts exclusively to deal with criminal cases involving political persons on the lines of the fast-track courts which were set up for a period of five years which was later extended, though the scheme now stands discontinued.
The Centre told the apex court that it had obtained from an NGO a figure of 1,581 criminal cases pending against lawmakers and politicians. However, it said, the NGO was not able to give details of the courts before which these cases are pending.
The Centre said it has through a 8 December communication to state Chief Secretaries, Secretaries of state assemblies and General Secretaries of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha sought information on such cases and their statuses.
The Centre has sought more time to collect, collate and place the relevant information before the apex court.
The Centre said this in response to a court query as to how many of these cases have been disposed off within a year (as directed by the top court through a 10 March, 2014, order).
"How many of the 1,581 cases involving Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and Members of Parliament (MPs) (as declared at the time of filing of nomination papers for the 2014 general elections) have been disposed within the time frame of one year," the Supreme Court sought to know by its 1 November direction.
The court also sought details on how many of these decided cases ended in acquittals or conviction of MPs and MLAs, as the case may be, while also calling for details of fresh criminal cases filed since 2014 against politicians/lawmakers, stages of trial and outcome in case trials had concluded.
By its 1 November order, the apex court also directed the Election Commission to file affidavits on cases in which, in exercise of its powers under Section 11 of the Representation of the People Act, it had reduced the period of disqualification of a convicted lawmaker.
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