In the backdrop of Supreme Court setting a deadline to complete trial in cases involving lawmakers, the Centre will soon write to state governments to speed up cases against MPs and MLAs facing charges, which attract disqualification.
The move also comes against the backdrop of a directive of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to cleanse politics from tainted lawmakers. “It is a priority commitment of the Narendra Modi government that polity needs to be cleansed. Those against whom criminal cases are pending, that trial needs to be expedited. If they are clean, they will be acquitted. If they are not, law will take its own course,” Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and attended by Prasad and top home and law Ministry officials besides Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi.
Prasad said cases against MPs and MLAs which attract disqualification under Section 8(1), 8(2) and 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act needed to be completed within one year of framing charges according to a March 10 direction of the Supreme Court.
Any sentence which attracts punishment of two years and above can lead to disqualification from Parliament or state legislature.
“The government is going to follow up the direction of the Supreme Court in a substantial way whereby the Home Minister shall be writing to all chief ministers of the states and I will be writing to all law ministers of the states to ensure mandatory compliance of this provision,” Prasad said.
He said this will be a big step in cleansing the politics of the country.
Highly-placed sources said the attorney general is likely to inform the apex court about the government decision to write to the states to expedite the cases involving law makers.
In its March 10 directive, the Supreme Court had set a deadline for lower courts to complete trial in cases involving lawmakers within a year of framing of charges.
The apex court had also said that trial courts will have to give explanation to the chief justice of the respective high court if the trial is not completed within a year. It said all such proceedings involving lawmakers must be conducted on a day-to-day basis in order to expedite the trial.
As the trial is kept pending for years, lawmakers continue to enjoy membership of the legislative body despite being charged in a heinous offence, the court noted.
Prime Minister Modi had on July 24 asked the home minister and law minister to work out a mechanism to settle criminal and other court cases against politicians within a year.
The directive is in line with Modi’s commitment during his election campaign that he will endeavour to see that court cases against politicians are decided within one year. If they are guilty, they should be punished, if not they should be discharged, he had said.