Disposing of corruption cases expeditiously

The need to segregate corruption cases from among the pending criminal cases for purposes of speedy trial has been urgently felt and in a major development, High Court has desired that preferred attention be given towards disposing of pending corruption cases and that should be the priority of the Judicial Officers of the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Special emphasis has been laid on criminal cases involving sitting and former Members of Parliament and Legislators. Finding that despite there being clear cut instructions on both the important aspects , there having been found not any up-to-date progress in disposal of such cases, fresh directions of speedy trial , therefore, have been given by the Chief Justice. It is pertinent to mention that vide a circular issued in March 2015, clear cut instructions in this regard having been issued particularly about filing of quarterly status report stage-wise on such matters appearing to have been not complied with , the Court was compelled to issue fresh instructions. The circular under reference had asked all the Special Judges of Anti Corruption Courts to dispose of the corruption cases in a time bound manner and on priority basis.
The then and present ‘VIPs’ involved in corruption cases needed not to be given any sort of relaxation which by virtue of the slow speed of disposal, they could feel as such and instead needed to be tried in special courts . Status report on quarterly basis giving all the desired information stage-wise was now directed by the Chief Justice to be provided to the Registrar’s office within a week’s time . Setting timeline and specific disposing procedure in time bound manner by the High Court is expected to turn the tables on the hitherto complacent response towards the issue and the sensitivities attached to it . This is specially so when , now, “any deviation would be treated as indiscipline and shall be reflected in the Annual Confidential Reports (ACRs) of the Presiding Officers of each such court,” as the High Court of the Union Territory was to review progress at regular intervals in the pending criminal cases involving corruption and other similar offences alleged to have been committed by the sitting and the former Law Makers . There are, otherwise, directions from the Supreme Court that charges framed against such Law Makers under Representation of People’s Act – Section 8.1,2 and 3 , the trial must be concluded as speedily as possible but in no case, later than one year from the date of framing charges. In other words and in strict interpretation of the directives of the Supreme Court , as far as possible, trials on day to day basis needed to be conducted. Specific reasons, presumably unavoidable, due to which the time specific of one year in specific instances could not be adhered to , had to be conveyed through a report indicating such reasons. In short, all these provisions and directives of higher courts are indicative of the importance accorded to the time factor during which trial of the corruption cases against the Law Makers was to be completed.
Such an initiative taken by the High Court deserves not only all the commendation and appreciation but it indicated the aspirations and the will of the general masses in respect of speedy trial and fast decisions in such cases. Hence , the deep rooted belief in them that for years together cases remained undecided in respect of the sitting and former MPs and MLAs even if corruption and other criminal offences were involved against them, needed to be changed . The benefits of delayed judicial process were being reaped by the concerned accused and they used to contest elections after elections and even win them too. The criminal cases where offences were punishable with imprisonment for life or awarding death sentences , offences punishable with a jail term of 5 years or more and other offences needed to be sorted out and attended to on priority, is what the fresh directives of the High court are to the Judicial Officers.