NEWS: SC Bars withdrawal of Criminal Cases against MPs/MLAs without sanction of HC

By Legal Wires 5 Minutes Read

The Supreme Court directed that the criminal cases against MPs and MLAs cannot be withdrawn without prior sanction of concerned the High Court.

Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors

A Bench comprising of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice Vineet Saran, and Justice Surya Kant issued directions while hearing the plea, by BJP leader, advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking speedy trial in cases against MPs and MLAs by setting up of special courts.

The Bench ordered “The first issue is about the misuse of power under Section 321 of the Code of Criminal Procedure regarding withdrawal of cases. We find it appropriate to direct that no prosecution against MPs, MLAs to be withdrawn without the leave of High Court in suo moto case pursuant to our order.”

The court directed that judges hearing the criminal cases against MPs and MLAs in Special Courts should continue in their current posts until further orders of the Supreme Court.

“To ensure disposal of pending cases, it’s necessary for this court to direct presiding officers of special courts, or CBI courts involved in the prosecution of MPs, MLAs to continue in their present post until further orders. Such a direction of this court barring the judicial officers will be subject to their retirement or death,” the bench added.

The Amicus Curiae Vijay Hansaria had submitted a report with the assistance of Advocate Sneha Kalita, giving details regarding the status of trials against MP, MLAs.

The number of criminal cases pending against sitting and former MPs and MLAs in December 2018 was 4,122. This has increased to 4,859 in September 2020, registering a jump of 17% in less than two years.

The amicus curiae submitted that even after repeated orders by the apex court the central agencies, including CBI have failed to submit a status report regarding the pendency of cases being investigated by them.

The amicus curiae have informed the court regarding various instances wherein the state governments have attempted to withdraw cases against their party MPs and MLAs, even those booked for serious offences.

  • UP government has sought to withdraw 76 cases against elected representatives, including the Muzaffarnagar riot cases against Sangeet Som, Kapil Dev, Suresh Rana and Sadhvi Prachi.
  • Karnataka Government Order dated 31.08.2020 issued instructions for withdrawal of 61 cases, many of which are against elected representatives of the State Legislature.
  • Maharashtra government reportedly withdrew political cases against activists registered prior to 31st December 2019.

The state government has been using its power under section 321 of the CrPC, to issue orders to end criminal cases against politicians.

Further, the plea sought directions to provide adequate infrastructure to set up special courts to decide criminal cases related to People Representatives, Public Servants, and Members of Judiciary within one year and debar the convicted persons uniformly from Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary.

Legal Wires

Team @LegalWires

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