A report filed in the Supreme Court in a matter related to expeditious trial of Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) states that the number of criminal cases pending in subordinate courts against sitting and former MLAs and MPs nears 5,000, as of 2021. The report submitted by amicus curiae and Senior Advocate Vijay Hansaria mentioned that the number of cases rose from 4,110 in December 2018 to 4,984 in December 2021, while the figure was 4,859 in October 2020.
“It is submitted that despite a series of directions by this Hon’ble Court and continuous monitoring, as many as 4984 cases are pending out of which 1899 cases are more than 5 years old. It may be noted that the total number of cases pending as on December 2018 were 4110; and as on October 2020 were 4859,” said Advocate Hansaria.
Hansaria, with the assistance of Advocate Sneha Kalita, filed the report before the apex court during the hearing of a PIL filed by Delhi BJP leader and Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay that seeked expeditious trial of cases against sitting and former MPs/MLAs.
“Even after disposal of 2775 cases after December 4, 2018, the cases against MPs/MLAs have increased from 4122 to 4984. This shows that more and more persons with criminal antecedents are occupying the seats in the Parliament and the State Legislative Assemblies. It is of utmost necessity that urgent and stringent steps are taken for expeditious disposal of pending criminal cases,” mentioned the senior advocate.
Hansaria suggested that the Supreme Court form a monitoring committee led by a former SC judge or the Chief Justice of a High Court to track the investigation in such cases by central agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement Directorate and the National Investigative Agency, to evaluate the reasons behind the delay in probes. “The trial courts may be directed to pass a specific order in all pending cases that the benefit of the Witness Protection Scheme 2018, has been made available to the witnesses in terms of the order dated November 4, 2020,” he added.
Over the last three years, the Supreme Court has been monitoring the expeditious disposal of criminal cases against MPs/MLAs through the present case and has passed a series of of directions in this regard, including asking the Centre to constitute a monitoring committee to evaluate the reasons for delay of investigation in such cases, and to provide necessary infrastructure to courts hearing such cases for conduct of court proceedings through internet facilities.
Meanwhile, a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) on the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election 2022 stated that 25 percent of the candidates have criminal cases registered against them, and 20 percent have declared serious cases. “Out of 615 candidates analysed, 156 (25 percent) candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves. 121 (20 percent) have declared serious criminal cases against themselves,” the ADR report said.