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12 special courts for cases against MPs, MLAs: Centre to Supreme Court

13 December 2017

There will be 12 special courts in the country to exclusively dispose of criminal cases against members of Parliament and State Assemblies within a period of one year.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear the Centre's plea against an order of the Delhi High Court that allowed arbitration in the Vodafone tax dispute case. The court directed the Centre to file details of action taken by it to get Uttar Pradesh businesswoman Ritika Awasty extradited from the United Kingdom where she had gone after giving an undertaking to the SC that she would return but never came back.

Vasishta added that the ministry of finance has given the approval of Rs 7.8 crore to start the courts.

The hearing was over a PIL, filed by senior SC lawyer and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, seeking to restrain convicted politicians from running and holding posts in political parties. "On revocation of the passport, the Indian high commissioner in London shall initiate action for the return of the petitioner to India, so as to face the judicial process, which is pending consideration before this court", it had said.

The government, however, has said that it does not have data on how many of these cases have been decided and whether any new case has been filed against an MP or MLA between 2014 and 2017.

As per the available details, 184 Lok Sabha and 44 Rajya Sabha MPs are facing criminal cases. To this end, he has challenged as unconstitutional the provisions of the Representation of Peoples Act, which bars convicted politicians from contesting elections for a period of six years after serving jail term.

The Centre said that these special courts will be responsible for speedy disposal of around 1,571 cases pending against MPs and MLAs. Bihar would have just one court to deal with 141 cases involving MLAs as will Maharashtra to try 160 cases against its legislators.

The Supreme Court has intervened on several occasions to trigger electoral reforms, including making it a must for candidates to declare their assets and list criminal cases against them, if any.

Since the figure of 1581 cases was extracted from the declaration made at the time of filing nomination papers during the 2014 elections, the Court had further demanded information on any new cases lodged against any present or former legislator.

The apex court would consider the government's affidavit on Wednesday. The decision was also influenced by the 11th Finance Commission analysis that one such court could dispose of 165 cases per annum.

12 special courts for cases against MPs, MLAs: Centre to Supreme Court