New Delhi, Nov 4 (IANS) The amicus curiae in the plea seeking setting up of special courts to expeditiously try criminal cases against MPs/MLAs submitted before the Supreme Court that criminal cases against sitting legislators must be given priority.
Senior advocate Vijay Hansaria, the amicus curiae, apprised the bench comprising Justices N.V. Ramana, Surya Kant and Anirudhha Bose, on various High Courts reports in terms of steps taken, cases pending as well as further plan of action to expeditiously cases against sitting and former MP/MLA.
He submitted that criminal cases involving sitting legislators should be prioritised. “They are lawmakers. If they have murder cases pending against them, they shouldn’t be making laws for us. This is in public interest,” he said.
Hansaria added that special public prosecutors must be appointed by the court to take up the cases and emphasised on witness protection. The bench, however, did not agree with Hansaria’s that a direction should be given to the special courts to grant protection to the witnesses in the cases.
“There are thousands of witnesses in over four thousand cases against MPs and MLAs and is it possible to grant protection to all?” it asked.
The bench has asked the Centre to file an affidavit within two weeks clarifying its stand in the matter.
It also noted that the Madras High Court has accepted that it has “committed a mistake” by questioning the constitutional validity of setting up these special courts.
On the Madras High Court matter, Hansaria added that raising such an issue was not correct and there was a special magisterial court in every district of the country since April 2019 to deal with cases against the lawmakers.
A three-judge criminal rules committee of the Madras High Court had said: “Special Courts can only be ‘Offence Centric’ and not ‘Offender Centric’. Courts can be constituted only by statute and cannot be constituted by judicial or executive fiats.”
The bench said they accepted their mistake, and expect the Madras High Court, no other high courts have no objection with setting up of special courts.
Justice Ramana said: “Let’s not side track the issue. We will deal with this aspect later.” The bench added that whatever directions they have passed in this matter must be implemented.
The observations from the top court came during hearing a PIL filed by lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay, who has sought speedy disposal of cases against the lawmakers.
The top court also granted two weeks’ time to the Madras High Court to file a reply.