GUWAHATI: The Supreme Court of India-appointed Amicus curiae Vijay Hansaria has dropped a bombshell on Tuesday when he submitted a list of 4,442 pending cases against former and present legislators (MLAs and MPs) to the apex Court.
Hansaria's list has 35 legislators from Assam – 25 sitting and 10 former ones. What may make the eight sitting and four former legislators from Assam in Hansaria's list pass sleepless night is that their crimes are punishable ones, deserving life imprisonment.
Among the other States in the Northeast, while Manipur has 15 such cases, Mizoram has four (including two listed as punishable crimes), Meghalaya has four (punishable crimes: two), and one punishable case each in Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura.
The apex Court appointed senior Supreme Court advocate Vijay Hansaria as the Amicus curiae in the writ petition (civil) (699/2016) Ashwani Kumar Upadhayay versus the Union of India and others. The PIL is for speedy disposal of the pending criminal cases against sitting and former legislators.
Hansaria was to collect all pending cases against present and former legislators from each and every High Court in the country and submit a status report to the apex Court. The SC asked the States that have over 65 such pending cases to form special Courts exclusively for disposing of the pending cases against the present and also the former legislators.
In the case of Public Interest Foundation versus Union of India, 2015 (11) SCC 433, the Supreme Court said that the trial of cases under Sections 8(1), 8(2) and 8(3) of the RP Act should be completed within a year from the date of framing the charges, if need be, through day-to-day hearing. If a Court is unable to dispose of such cases within a year, it should inform the Chief Justice of the respective High Court the reason behind the delay.
The Amicus curiae observed that a large number of cases are pending at appearance stage and even non-bailable warrants issued by the Courts have not been executed. In a large number of cases, even charges have not been framed including those punishable with imprisonment for life, Hansaria observed. He has also found that a large number of cases are for violation of Section 188 IPC for willful disobedience/ obstruction of orders promulgated by public servants.
Hansaria has suggested that each High Court may assign the pending criminal cases against present and former legislators to Session Courts and Magisterial Courts as the respective High Courts may consider proper, fit and expedient having regard to the number and nature of the pending cases.
The Amicus curiae said that forensic laboratories should be given priority in furnishing the report in respect of trial of cases by the Courts. He has also said that witnesses need protection regarding 'vulnerability' and 'influence' by legislators facing criminal trials.
The assisting counsel of Hansaria, Sneha Kalita said that the status report has been listed for hearing on September 10.
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