Criminal cases against politicians need fast tracking

In fact, it should be fastest tracking if the motive is to cleanse the system to a larger extent in respect of criminal cases filed against politicians especially of Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members Legislative Assemblies (MLAs). It is to be admitted with a sense of great satisfaction that the Apex Court has been tirelessly striving for such cases pending for years to be disposed of in which it has accordingly directed all the High Courts of the country to expedite trials. That the High Court of Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh taking a suo-moto cognizance on the directions of the Supreme Court has issued fresh directions and taken initiatives in this regard can be termed as earnestly required and a grand step towards putting an end to a sort of slackness in the process. That slackness or ”going slow” may ostensibly be to provide undue relief to such accused politicians instead of the cases decided expeditiously under a well devised mechanism of special courts , about which the Apex Court had advised all the High Courts. Directing Government counsels straightaway about the issue by the Division Bench headed by the Chief Justice to put forth all updated details about the pending criminal cases against MPs, MLAs and other politicians of Jammu and Kashmir with intent to constitute special courts for speedy progress of such cases, heralds a new chapter of dealing with such cases and, therefore, deserves to be accorded due priority and importance.
Much depends upon how the Government counsels show up their required commitment independent of any consideration extraneous to the provisions of the law including resisting any sort of pressure from any quarters which comes in between the process of speedy trial and how the cases are put before the special courts. That the very provision of ‘special courts’ for such criminal cases pending against the accused politicians denote the element of seriousness accorded to the matter as it is generally held , though may be factually not that correct, that such accused somehow manage to keep the cases, especially of criminal nature, dragged and prolonged so as to keep convictions as far as possible hence onus to an increasing extent, falls on Government counsels in getting such cases heard in special courts speedily with adjournments of lesser durations. However, the other face of the matter is that in many instances, cases other than of severe criminal nature like breaching police barricades, leading demonstrations , rioting, unlawful assembly, obstructing public servants etc are registered against the politicians and they too are in the same list of pending criminal cases. It would be, therefore, in the interests of the accused politicians as well, to have the cases heard in special courts on a fast track mode to get the requisite relief from the perpetual anxiety and tension, they might be carrying.
On the other hand, it is suggested that priority needs to be given to those criminal cases from out of the pending ones which are heinous in nature like rapes, murders, abductions and cases like corruption and involvement in economic offences. It is quite unfortunate that even after seven decades of our independence, a proper amendment to the The Representation of People’s Act is nowhere to be seen or pressed for in respect of bringing in requisite reforms in our electoral process. Such reforms otherwise are necessary especially in respect of disqualifying a candidate from contesting elections under circumstances of a criminal case filed against him or her and other offences unbecoming of a public leader which leaves enough leverage for the politicians to take adequate advantage of delays and pendency of cases against them in courts. The trend of withdrawing cases against politicians by ”new” Governments on the premise of ”vindictive policy” of the previous Government has been viewed by the Supreme Court in all its seriousness and thus disallowed this practice unless allowed by a High Court, is a much required direction to put an end to the uncalled for practice. However, special courts should not be starved of the requirement of adequate number of Judges in which case, the entire exercise shall fall short of its aims and objects. Let it be underlined that politicians are expected to be an example of integrity and impeccable honesty which, therefore, calls for employing every means to prove it on the ground too – speedy trial on fast track mode – would ensure that to a larger extent.