At least 12 special courts would be set up to decide cases involving politicians as accused, the Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court. It also sought more time to collect and collate data of pending cases against lawmakers across the country.
The Ministry of Law and Justice, in an affidavit filed in pursuance of an order asking it to come up with a scheme to set up special courts to deal with cases involving lawmakers, said it has allotted Rs 7.8 crore for the purpose.
Seeking time to file details of cases pending against the lawmakers in trial courts and high courts across the country, the Centre said information has been sought from various high courts, but their responses were still awaited.
The document, filed through ReetaVasishta, additional secretary of ministry of law and justice, said that as per the scheme, “Twelve special courts for a period of one year” shall be set up to dispose of cases against politicians. It said this scheme was given in-principle approval by the Ministry of Finance on 8 December.
The apex court had on 1 November directed the Centre to place before it details regarding 1,581 cases involving MPs and MLAs, as declared by the politicians at the time of filing their nominations during the 2014 general elections. It had asked the government to apprise it of how many among these 1,581 cases have been disposed of within one year and how many have ended either in conviction or acquittal.
The government’s affidavit has said that the figure of 1,581 cases has been obtained from an NGO but the data as to in which courts these cases are pending is not available.
“It is difficult to gather the facts and figures required for the purpose of answering the queries mentioned in the order of the court.
“Since the states in which these cases are pending is available, the ministry has initiated action by seeking to collect the requisite details from the respective state governments,” the affidavit said.
The Centre had earlier told the top court that decriminalisation of politics has to be done and it was not averse to the setting up of special courts to deal with cases involving politicians and speedy disposal of these matters.
It had informed the bench that the recommendations of the Election Commission and the Law Commission favouring life-time disqualification of politicians convicted in criminal cases was under the active consideration of the government.
The EC had supported the plea seeking life ban on politicians convicted in criminal cases and said they have already made recommendations on this to the Centre.
The top court was hearing petitions seeking to declare the provisions of the Representation of People (RP) Act, which bar convicted politician from contesting elections for six years after serving jail term, as ultra vires of the Constitution.
While Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay filed a PIL in the matter, several others have come to the apex court as intervenors.
The apex court had on 12 July pulled up the ECI for not taking a clear stand on a plea seeking barring of convicted politicians for life.
The Centre, in its affidavit, had said the prayer sought by the petitioner seeking life-time bar on convicted lawmakers was not maintainable and the plea should be dismissed.
The petition had also sought a direction to the Centre and the EC to fix minimum educational qualification and a maximum age limit for persons contesting polls.