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Fast courts for lawmakers

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  3 Nov 2017 12:00 AM GMT

The Supreme Court wants separate courts to try politicians and lawmakers facing crimil cases, as well as a time limit of one year to dispose of such cases. The Union government has been given six weeks by the SC bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice vin Sinha to come up with a scheme for setting up such fast track courts, detailing the infrastructure, manpower and expense needed. Mindful of the political sensitivities the Union government can rub the wrong way, the Additiol Solicitor General cautiously stated in court that the government “would not be averse” to setting up such special courts. The apex court further wanted to know what has become of the 1,581 cases involving MLAs and MPs as declared at the time of filing nomition papers to the 2014 elections — how many lawmakers have been let off and how many convicted. The SC bench has also asked the Union government to furnish details of any more crimil cases filed against lawmakers since 2014. The apex court poser is significant in the light of figures put out by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a group campaigning for political and electoral reforms, that as many as 34 percent (fully 186 of 543) of MPs in the present Lok Sabha have crimil cases against them. While the stock response by most lawmakers is that fictitious crimil charges are slapped against them by political opponents, it is noteworthy that as many as 112 current MPs have declared in their affidavits to the Election Commission that they have serious crimil cases lodged against them, including murder, attempt to murder, dacoity, kidpping, crimes against women and fomenting commul violence. Of them, 53 MPs have charges framed against them and will face disqualification if convicted. Things are actually getting worse — with ADR figures showing 30 percent MPs in 15th Lok Sabha and 24 percent MPs in 14th Lok Sabha having crimil cases lodged against them. In fact, the ADR report after the 2014 elections noted that the chances of winning was “higher for candidates with crimil cases”, compared to candidates with clean records! In another poser to the Election Commission, the apex court now wants to know how many times the EC has reduced the period of disqualification of a convicted lawmaker. In this context, the EC has told court it supports lifetime ban from electoral politics for any lawmaker convicted in a crimil case. It remains to be seen whether political parties across the spectrum will back any government move to decrimilise the political system. So far, it has been the apex court that has been doing the nudging towards this end.

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