New Delhi: The Home Ministry has asked all state governments to speed up cases against MPs and MLAs facing charges which attract disqualification, directing them to seek day-to-day trial in courts, appoint special public prosecutors and ensure regular monitoring.
The direction came in the wake of Supreme Court setting a deadline to complete trial in cases involving lawmakers.
The step is also in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's direction on July 24 asking the Home Minister and Law Minister to work out a mechanism to settle cases against politicians within a year to cleanse politics from tainted lawmakers.
Quoting the Supreme Court directive, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami have written separate letters to Chief Ministers and Chief Secretaries of all states and Union Territories advising them to take action for ensuring the compliance of the directions of the apex court to complete the trial against sitting MPs and MLAs who have charges framed against them that attract disqualification.
Any sentence which attracts punishment of two years and above can lead to disqualification from Parliament or state legislature.
According to a March 10, 2014 direction of the Supreme Court, 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.
"Once any case has been identified then the Assistant Public Prosecutors/ Public Prosecutors will move a prayer before the concerned magistrate/ sessions judge seeking a fast track trial of the case on a day-to-day basis in compliance with the above mentioned order of the Supreme Court," the letter to the states said.
The Home Minister and Home Secretary said that in case there is a shortage of prosecutors, then the state should appoint a Special Public Prosecutor to ensure that the case is not delayed for want of a prosecutor.
"It would be best that the Home Secretary of the State/ UT reviews the status of these cases at regular intervals," it said.
Production of witnesses, medical or forensic reports and any document that is required to support the prosecution of the case shall have to be ensured and the highest priority should be given to the preparation of these reports.
The State/UT police and other associated authorities should be suitably instructed to ensure that the highest priority should be given to ensure that the case is not delayed for want of production of witnesses or documents.
A District level coordination committee may be constituted for monitoring these cases. It should be headed by District and Sessions Judge. The DM/DC and SP should be members of this committee and the Public Prosecutor should be its secretary.
"At the metropolitan level, a suitable monitoring mechanism may be evolved involving the judiciary, police and prosecution," Goswami's letter said.
The Home Secretary said the Directorate of Prosecution of the State will immediately take steps to identify all cases for which charges have been framed under Section 211 of the CrPC or under the Special Act itself against any sitting MLA or MP against the penal sections of various Act enumerated in Sections 8(1),
8(2) and 8(3) of the Representation of People Act, 1951.
A similar letter was sent by Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad too. The decision to write to states was taken at a high-level meeting held last week.
It was chaired by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and attended by the Law Minister and top Home and Law Ministry officials besides Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi.
In its order, the Supreme 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.
The court passed the order on a PIL filed by NGO Public Interest Foundation seeking its direction for expeditious trial in cases involving lawmakers.
The NGO contended that MPs and MLAs continue to be members of Parliament and assemblies for a long time due to delay in proceedings.
The step is also 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.
During the poll campaign, he had vowed to pursue a zero-tolerance policy on graft if he came to power.