SRINAGAR, Sept 21: The High Court today directed Government counsels to inform the court about the criminal cases pending against the Members of Parliament, Members of Legislative Assembly and other politicians in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and to constitute a special court for progress of their cases.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice V C Koul have taken the suo moto cognizance on the directions of Supreme Court and asked the Counsels appearing on behalf of UTs of J&K and Ladakh to give the updated status of all criminal cases which are pending before the court of law against the politicians.
The three Judge Bench of Supreme Court on September 17 this year has directed all High Courts of the country to expedite trials against politicians.
The CJs of HCs, the Supreme Court directed, shall designate a special bench, comprising themselves and their designate in order to monitor the progress of these trials. “The CJs shall send their additional suggestions, if any, for the purpose of expedient disposal of pending criminal cases against the legislators”, the Supreme Court said.
It also directed that no prosecution against a sitting or former MP or MLA shall be withdrawn without the leave of the High Court and asked for examination of withdrawals in light of the guidelines as laid down by the Supreme Court.
It has also been cleared that in case passing of any stay order is necessary then in such eventuality courts should hear the matter on a day-to-day basis and dispose of the case expeditiously preferably within a period of two months without any necessary adjournment. “It goes without saying that the COVID-19 conditions should not be an impediment to the compliance of these directions, as these cases could be conveniently heard through video conferencing”, read the SC order.
The HCs have been directed to designate a Judicial Officer for all such cases, who shall try these cases on priority basis and the Judicial Officer can be allotted their work depending on the workload, number and nature of criminal cases against MPs and MLAs and such Judicial Officer shall have continuity of tenure for minimum period of two years.
“In view of directions contained in the order dated 16.09.2020 of the Supreme Court passed in writ petition directing for monitoring the progress of the trial of cases pending against the sitting and former legislators (MPs or MLAs), on the directions of Chief Justice, the Registry has registered this PIL as “Court on its own motion versus Union of India and others”, the DB said.
“In this suo moto motion, the “Union of India” shall be represented through the Home Secretary, “Union Territory of J&K” through Commissioner Secretary, Home and “Union Territory of Ladakh” through Commissioner Secretary, Home”, the DB arrayed them as party respondent.
Court issued notice to them and T M Shamsi, ASGI who represented not only Union of India and Union Territory of Ladakh as well and D C Raina, Advocate General represented the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. “Both the counsels would inform the court on next date as to 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”, the DB directed.