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Early Disposal of Cases against MPs and MLAs

Why is it in the news

  • The Supreme Court issued guidelines in a case challenging Section 8(3) of the Representation of People Act, 1951.
  • Section 8(3) of the Representation of People Act, 1951, imposes a six-year ban on individuals convicted of offenses with a minimum two-year sentence from contesting elections.

 

Guidelines Issued by the Supreme Court:

 

Registration of Suo Motu Cases: Chief Justices of High Courts (HCs) are directed to register Suo Motu cases titled ‘In Re Designated courts for MPs and MLAs’ to monitor cases against MPs and MLAs. These cases can be heard by a Chief Justice-led special bench.

 

Priority in Designated Courts: Designated courts should give priority to cases against MPs and MLAs in the following order:

  • Criminal cases punishable with death or life imprisonment.
  • Cases punishable with imprisonment for 5 years or more.
  • Other cases.
  • Trial courts should avoid unnecessary adjournments except for rare and compelling reasons.

 

Role of High Courts: High Courts should take measures for effective monitoring of these cases by invoking their powers under Article 227 of the Constitution. Article 227(1) grants High Courts superintendence over all courts and tribunals within their jurisdiction.

 

Related Supreme Court Judgments

·       In 2018, the Supreme Court made it mandatory for political parties to publish details of criminal cases pending against their candidates, including on their websites.

·       Lily Thomas v Union of India, 2013: Legislators convicted and awarded a minimum 2 years of imprisonment would cease to be members of the house.

·       Union of India v Association for Democratic Reforms, 2002: Electors have a fundamental right to know the antecedents of candidates contesting elections.

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