Set up Special Courts to Try Tainted Politicians, SC Tells Govt

SC asked the Centre if it had dealt with the 1,581 cases involving MPs & MLAs that were declared before 2014 polls.

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The Supreme Court of India. 
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The Supreme Court on Wednesday, 1 November, favoured creation of special courts to exclusively deal with criminal cases involving politicians and their speedy disposal, saying such a move would be in the “interest of the nation”.

Directing the Centre to place before it a scheme in this regard, the top court asked it about the 1,581 cases involving MPs and MLAs, as declared by the politicians at the time of filing of their nominations during the 2014 elections, and the details of how many of them have been disposed of within one year as per its directions passed in 2014.

It sought details of how many of these 1,581 cases have ended in conviction or acquittal of the accused, the number of criminal cases lodged against politicians from 2014 till date as well as the data on disposal of these matters.

A bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha made the remarks after the Centre said decriminalisation of politics has to be done and it was not averse to setting up of special courts to deal with cases involving politicians and expeditious disposal of these matters.

Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Atmaram Nadkarni, representing the Centre, told the bench that the government was “not averse to setting up of special courts and quick and early disposal of criminal cases involving politicians”.

He said that recommendations of the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the Law Commission favouring life-time disqualification of politicians convicted in criminal cases was under the “active consideration” of the Centre.

When the bench said these special courts would deal exclusively with criminal cases involving politicians, the Centre asked whether these courts could be combined with the special CBI courts which already exist across the country.

“No, do not combine it with anything else,” the bench said, adding “it is in the interest of nation”.

During the hearing, the ECI supported the plea seeking life-time disqualification on politicians convicted in criminal cases and said it has already made recommendations on this to the Centre.

"We support the plea that disqualification should be for life," the EC's counsel said, adding that the poll panel has already written to the government to bring in appropriate amendments to the law in this regard.

The Centre told the court that the petitioner has not given a single illustration that any convicted politician has made a come back to either Parliament or the state Assemblies after being convicted in criminal cases and serving the six- year disqualification period.

While Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay had filed a PIL in the matter, several others have moved the top court as intervenors.

The apex court had on 12 July pulled up the ECI for not taking a clear stand on a plea seeking barring of convicted politicians for life.

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