Framing of charges pending in majority of cases
JAMMU, Dec 14: Acting on the directions of the Supreme Court, the State High Court has asked the subordinate courts to ensure fast-track trial in criminal cases involving former and sitting Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir and periodically submit progress report for the appraisal of the Chief Justice.
In the Writ Petition (Civil) No.69/2016 titled Ashwani Kumar Upadhyay Versus Union of India and Another seeking life time ban on politicians convicted in criminal cases, Supreme Court passed numerous directions from time to time for strict compliance across the country.
The important directions were pertaining to collection of information about the criminal cases involving former and sitting Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assemblies and thereafter ensuring speedy trial in order to ensure their disposal in shortest possible time.
In the Writ Petition, the Supreme Court even appointed Senior Advocate Vijay Hansaria as Amicus Curiae and asked him to collect information from all the High Courts across the country and ascertain the status of each criminal case involving former and sitting MPs and MLAs.
On the receipt of detailed information from the Amicus Curiae on December 3, 2018, the Supreme Court on December 4, 2018 asked all the High Courts to pass instructions to the subordinate courts for speedy disposal of criminal cases against former and sitting MPs and MLAs.
Now, on the directions of Chief Justice of J&K High Court Justice Gita Mittal, Registrar General Sanjay Dhar has dashed a communication to the concerned subordinate courts before whom criminal cases involving former and sitting MPs and MLAs are pending asking them to fix a calendar for each of these cases to be taken up on day-to-day basis.
“Priority shall be accorded to the trial of the cases involving offences punishable with imprisonment for life/death against the former and sitting MPs and MLAs; serious offences punishable with imprisonment of five years or more and other heinous offences”, reads the circular of Registrar General of J&K High Court.
As per the detailed information available with EXCELSIOR, only one sitting Member of Parliament is facing criminal case while as rest of the cases are against large number of former MLAs. In majority of the cases framing of charges is pending since long. In one case, the trial has been stayed by the higher court.
“The State High Court has preferred to pass instructions for speedy trial to the existing jurisdictional courts instead of establishing special courts as has been recommended by the Amicus Curiae in his report dated December 3, 2018”, sources in judiciary said.
They disclosed that High Court will have to furnish updated information on the progress made in the criminal cases involving former and sitting MPs and MLAs on fixed format to the Apex Court after every four month so that intent behind the writ petition, which is still pending before the Supreme Court, is achieved.
According to the sources, High Court had to furnish details with regard to the disposal of cases against the former and sitting MPs and MLAs within one year as per the direction of the Supreme Court dated March 10, 2014. However, hardly any case was disposed of within one year.
“It is only due to latest directions of the Supreme Court that attention is being paid towards ensuring speedy trial in criminal cases involving former and sitting MPs and MLAs”, sources said.
The Amicus Curiae has recommended that directions should be given to the State Governments to designate at least two Special Public Prosecutors for prosecuting cases involving former and sitting MPs and MLAs. Moreover, he has suggested passing of directions to the High Courts for deciding the cases where stays were granted.