The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Chief Secretaries of 19 states and six Union Territories, including Registrar Generals (RGs) of the High Courts, to furnish details of the criminal cases pending against MPs and MLAs.
The states that have to furnish details include Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura and Uttarakhand.
Besides this, the UTs Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Lakshadweep and Puducherry too have to furnish the information.
It also asked whether the cases have been transferred to the special courts set up in pursuance to its December 2017 order to try them.
A bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Navin Sinha and Justice K.M. Joseph also sought information whether special courts set up in pursuance of its order were functional.
"We specifically direct the two authorities, namely, the Chief Secretaries of the states and the Registrar Generals of the High Courts to lay before us the precise number of cases which are presently pending and required to be transferred to the Special Courts", said the order passed by the court.
It further wanted to know "whether the 12 special courts set up are functional and whether in view of the volume of cases that would be required to be transferred to the special courts, there is the necessity of setting up of additional Courts."
It wanted to know whether in view of the volume of cases pending, there was need of additional special courts to try lawmakers facing criminal cases.
The court made it clear that if required it would monitor the compliance of its orders passed from time to time.
The court order binding the Chief Secretaries and RGs came as the bench was apparently not satisfied with the information furnished by the Union Ministry of Law and Justice in its affidavit filed on September 11.
The affidavit said that a total of 1,233 criminal cases were transferred to the special courts. Of these, 136 have been disposed of and remaining 1,097 were pending.
Appearing for petitioner Ashwini Upadhyaya, counsel Sajan Povvaya urged the court to see if Special Courts were actually working. He cited the example of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) courts that have been set up by the states were not functional as there were no presiding judges.
In a series of orders passed by the court on November 1, 2017, December 14, 2017, and August 21, 2018 the court had sought information on how many of 1,581 cases involving MLAs and MPs, as declared at the time of filing of the nomination papers to the 2014 Elections, have been disposed of within the time frame of one year.
The top court by its March 10, 2014 order had directed that in the cases involving lawmakers, the trial should be completed in one year.
The court also wanted to know how many of these cases which have been finally decided have ended in acquittal/conviction of MPs and MLAs.
It also sought information whether further criminal cases have been lodged against any present or former lawmaker between 2014 and 2017 (as on date).
Next hearing is on October 10.
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