States Can’t withdraw cases against politicians without High Court Approval: Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court took up the matter pertaining to “expeditious disposal” of pending criminal cases against MPs and MLAs.

The Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and comprising Justice Vineet Saran and Justice Surya Kant has directed that no prosecution against MPs and MLAs be withdrawn without the leave of the High Court.

This direction was made by the Supreme Court when the Amicus Curiae Senior Advocate Vijay Hansaria pointed out that the Government of Karnataka gave orders to withdraw cases against 61 MPs and MLAs and he also pointed out that the Uttar Pradesh government has sought to withdraw 76 cases against elected representatives, including the Muzaffarnagar riot cases against Sangeet Som, Kapil Dev, Suresh Rana and Sadhvi Prachi.

Thereafter, the bench ordered, “Issue of misuse of power under Section 321 of CrPC regarding withdrawal of cases is before us. No prosecution against MP, MLA to be withdrawn without leave of High Court in suo motu case pursuant to our order.”

The bench also pulled up the Central Government for not obeying its order of furnishing the proper status report regarding the pendency of cases against MPs and MLAs. CJI Ramana made the remark that, “No endeavour has been made by the Central Government in pursuant to the order that we gave last time (i.e. filing of status report).”

The Apex Court also hinted that if the Central Government will not obey its order in true spirit, then they will form a Special Bench to deal with this aspect more expeditiously.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Central Government, assured the bench that he will file the proper status report with the convenient format before the bench within 2 weeks. The bench is hearing an application filed by Ashwini Upadhyay seeking “utmost expeditious disposal” of pending criminal cases against MPs and MLAs.

The petitioner has averred that though the apex court has consistently passed orders for setting up fast-track courts for speedy disposal of criminal cases related to MPs and MLAs, political persons are taking all efforts to defeat the purpose of this Writ Petition and the effect of the orders passed by the Court. Further, the state has failed to prioritize the issue of speedy disposal of cases against MPs or MLAs.

In compliance with the court’s order of November 1, 2017, the Central Government proposed a scheme to set up 12 fast-track courts. This scheme was approved by the Court in its order of December 14, 2017. The order directed the state governments to set up the fast-track courts in consultation with the respective High Courts. The top court also granted power to the High Courts to trace the case records of Trial Courts and transfer those cases to the respective Special Court.

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