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Number of criminal cases against Indian lawmakers doubles in 4 yrs to 3,045

BS Web Team/ 12 Mar 18 | 11:26 AM

Photo: ANI

As many as 1,765 members of Parliament and state legislative Assemblies (MPs and MLAs) – or 36 per cent of all lawmakers in the country – are at present facing criminal trial in 3,045 cases, an affidavit by the Centre has informed the Supreme Court. The number of criminal cases against them is almost twice as much as 1,581 in 2014.

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The Supreme Court had in 2017 asked the government to collect data of cases against legislators and set up 12 special courts to deal with such cases. Now, with the number of cases almost doubling from 2014, the government might have to increase the number of special courts it wishes to set up.

State-wise case distribution

Uttar Pradesh fares the worst in state-wise list of criminal cases filed against legislators. Of the MPs and MLAs from the state, 248 legislators face trials in 565 cases. Worse, UP also has the highest number of pending cases, at 539.

Kerala is the second-worst state on this parameter, with 533 cases filed against 114 of its legislators; the number of pending cases in Kerala stands at 373. In Tamil Nadu, there are 402 cases filed against 178 MLAs, and 324 of the cases are pending.

In a clear case of contrast, politics in the northeastern states of Manipur and Mizoram seems fairly clean, with no criminal cases filed against any of their legislators.

The statistics from the law ministry revealed that only 125 cases were decided in a year. Funds had been disbursed to 11 states and they had taken steps to build special courts, the ministry told the Supreme Court. But eight states and UTs had not gone for special courts and, instead, issued instructions to fast-track cases against their MPs and MLAs.

What necessitated the Centre’s affidavit?

The Centre’s affidavit in the Supreme Court came in response to a direction by a two-judge Bench of headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi in November 1, 2017, seeking information on the number of cases against legislators. The court was hearing a PIL by BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, who sought a lifelong ban on convicted politicians from contesting elections.

According to the figures provided by NGO ‘Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR)’, 1,581 cases were pending against lawmakers after the 2014 elections. To deal with this, the Centre had said in 2017 that it would set up 12 special courts and allocated Rs 78 million.

It was then that the government had said it would collect data on pending cases against legislators across the country, in order to decide on how many special courts needed to be set up.

According to a Times of India report, the Supreme Court had asked the government to come up with a plan to set up such special courts. The Court had later again reminded the Centre to set up special courts to exclusively try lawmakers and decide the cases expeditiously within a year, in an attempt to put an end to inordinate delays in the prosecution of politicians. 

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