HC seeks details of cases against former, sitting MPs, ex-legislators in J&K, Ladakh
Srinagar: High Court of J&K and Ladakh has sought details about the number of cases pending in different subordinate courts as well as the matters pending in the High Court against the former, sitting MPs and ex-MLAs in J&K and Ladakh.
In keeping with the directions of Supreme Court for monitoring the progress of the trial of cases pending against the sitting and former legislators (MPs or MLAs), High Court of J&K and Ladakh has registered a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) as “Court on its own motion versus Union of India and others”.
The apex court has passed the directions in the order dated 16.09.2020 in writ petition (Civil) No.699/2016.
Hearing the PIL, division bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul said: “In this suo moto motion, the Union of India shall be represented through Home Secretary, Union Territory of J&K through Commissioner Secretary, Home and Union Territory of Ladakh through Commissioner Secretary, Home.
After the Court arrayed Union Home Secretary, J&K’s Commissioner Secretary Home and Commissioner Secretary Home Ladakh as respondents, Assistant Solicitor General of India Tahir Shamsi accepted notice on behalf of Ministry of Home Affairs and UT of Ladakh while Advocate General D C Raina accepted the same on behalf of J&K.
The Court asked both the counsel to inform it by October 21 about the number of trials which are pending in different subordinate courts as well as the matters pending in the High Court against the said MPs or MLAs.
In its order the Supreme Court has asked the Chief Justices of High Courts to head Special Benches and immediately hear long-pending criminal cases against sitting and former legislators. “There are about 175 cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act and 14 cases are pending under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 against sitting/former legislators,” the order noted.
In a significant order, a three-judge Bench of SC requested the Chief Justices to take up these cases which have been in the backburner indefinitely just because the courts had granted an interim stay of trial at some point of time in the distant past.
The Chief Justices were asked to list such cases immediately before their own respective Special Benches and review if the stay on the criminal trial needs to continue at all.
“In case the interim stay is still necessary, the Special Bench concerned should finally decide the pending petitions to quash the criminal trial filed by the accused legislators within two months,” the SC said. There should not be any unnecessary adjournments. The hearings should proceed on a day-to-day basis. The COVID-19 restrictions would not apply as the hearings can be done through video-conferencing”.
While the SC directed copies of the order to be sent forthwith to all the Chief Justices, it asked the Chief Justices to come up with an action plan on the infrastructure and number of special courts required to exclusively try criminal politicians.
The court asked the Chief Justices to submit their action plans based on the number of cases pending against MPs/MLAs in their respective States, the number of judges and their tenure, the number of cases assigned to them and the expected time of disposal, among other crucial details.