The Supreme Court has barred withdrawal of criminal prosecution against MPs/MLAs/MLCs without the express consent of the concerned high court. A bench of Chief Justice of India N V Ramana and Justices Vineet Saran and Surya Kant also ruled that the judges hearing such cases in the special courts should continue in their posts until further orders. It also reiterated an urgency of expeditious disposal of the cases by the special courts.
Amicus Curiae (appointed as a friend of court) senior advocate Vijay Hansaria sought prevention of the withdrawal of criminal cases against MPs, MLAs and MLCs, citing a few instances:
# Uttar Pradesh seeking withdrawal of cases against MLAs Sangeet Som, Suresh Rana, Kapil Dev, and Sadhvi Prachi, accused in the cases relating to the Muzzafarnagar riots.
# Karnataka govt, vide its order dated 31.08.2020, issued instructions to withdraw 61 cases, many against the elected representatives of the state legislature.
# Maharashtra reportedly withdrawing political cases against activists registered prior to 31.12.2019.
The case filed by Delhi BJP leader and SC lawyer Ashwani Kumar Upadhyay in 2016 was listed on Tuesday on a request for urgent hearing by the Amicus Curiae for directions. The plea had sought the convicted persons should be debarred from legislature, executive and judiciary, and special courts be set up to decide the criminal cases against the elected representatives within a year. Upadhyay had sought fixation of a minimum qualification and maximum age limit for contesting the elections.
Meanwhile, Upadhyay and five others were detained by the Delhi Police on Tuesday for alleged communal and inflammatory slogans raised at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Sunday during a protest led by Upadhyay (See Page 1). The Delhi Police swung into action after former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju tweeted the video of the demonstration to the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, with an appeal to “please save my India”.
Criminal antecedents of candidates on EC mobile app
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Election Commission to develop a mobile application that provides details of the candidates’ criminal antecedents to enable each voter to get the information on his/her mobile phone in just one click.
A Bench of Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman and Bhushan R Gavai issued the directions on the contempt petitions by Brajesh Singh and Manish Kumar on the political parties defying the court’s directions on February 13, 2020 in the Bihar Assembly election.
It imposed fines on 8 political parties for not disclosing the criminal antecedents of the candidates in the Bihar election. CPI(M) and NCP were fined Rs5 lakh each for total non-compliance while Cngress, BJP, JD(U), RJD, CPI and LJP were fined Rs1 lakh each.
The Bench reiterated an earlier direction to parties to upload details of their candidates with criminal backgrounds on the homepage of websites to enable the voters get complete information about the candidates before deciding whom to vote and provide a link on the homepage that states: “Candidates with criminal antecedents”. SC directed EC to raise awareness on social media, TV ads, prime time debates and pamphlets about where the info is available on criminal antecedents of candidates.
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