New Delhi [India], August 25 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed its serious concern and displeasure over the delay in completing the investigation against the present and former MLAs and MPs by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED).
The top court asked the Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta to find out if additional manpower and resources, they need to ensure expeditious time-bound completion of investigations.
The three-judge bench of the Apex Court, headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Nuthalapati Venkata Ramana and also comprising Justices Dr Dhananjaya Yashwant Chandrachud and also Surya Kant, asked the Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta to do something and try to expedite the probe in these cases.
"Don't keep hanging like this. Do something. If a case has to be closed, then take a decision and if a case has to be continued, please do that," the three-judge bench, headed by CJI Ramana observed.
The Supreme Court was hearing the petition filed by lawyer and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, seeking direction to debar those convicted MLAs and MPs from contesting elections for life and setting up of special courts and speedy disposal of cases against them.
Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) Vijay Hansaria told the Supreme Court that the data of pending criminal cases against sitting and former MPs and MLAs are shocking and disturbing and the probe and trial needed to be done expeditiously against them.
The top court also said that the governments must take the approval of the High Court before withdrawing criminal cases filed against sitting and former MPs and MLAs. "There is nothing wrong in withdrawing cases of malicious prosecution but it has to be examined by the state HC," the CJI said.
Hansaria told the Supreme Court that "50 per cent of cases are pending for 10 years or so, without the investigation is being completed."
To this, the CJI said that there may be many reasons for this, including lack of manpower and infrastructures and other things to add.
Hansaria said that a total of 51 cases registered by the ED against MPs (sitting and former) are pending. Out of these, 28 are pending investigation, two are still at the cognisance stage, charges are yet to be framed in 10 and 4 are in the trial stage.
Hansaria also said that a total of 71 cases have been filed against MLAs (sitting and former) by the ED. Out of these, 48 are still under investigation, in 15 cases the charges are being framed, and in 1 case there is a stay of a trial from the Supreme Court.
The Amicus Curiae, Hansaria, stated that he had filed his 14th Report before the court on August 24, yesterday in the case.
He mentioned before the Supreme Court today that the facts and figures mentioned in the reports of the CBI, ED and the NIA were disturbing. In terms of the various reports filed by the above said agencies, the Amicus enumerated the number of legislators as well as the number of pending cases against them, date of initiation of such complaint and the stage of trial before such agencies - indicating the massive delay in deciding such cases.
The Bench asked the SG to explain the cause for such inordinate delays in such cases pending before the said agencies.
The Bench further stated that they were aware of the shortfall in the workforce and the burden of workload on such agencies and therefore would not pass any comments to demoralise them.
The Bench asked the SG to discuss the aspect of shortfall in the workforce in the said agencies and inform the court at a later date. Also, infrastructure and rationalisation of hearings were amongst some of the issues highlighted by the bench.
To this, the SG offered to give some suggestions such as: "The Investigation shall be carried out within a period of 6 months. A definite period can be given for the conclusion of the trial. Limiting the period of stay by the HCs (to which the Bench clarified that stay had been granted in very few matters)."
The Amicus put forth some general suggestions such as directing the HCs to issue directions for expediting trial (daily hearing of cases), setting up more special courts, restricting adjournments by Public Prosecutors and cancellation of bail of the accused in case of non-appearance.
The Amicus further suggested that a monitoring committee be constituted to monitor the cases pending before the CBI, ED and the NIA.
Senior lawyer Vikas Singh told the court on the aspect of lifetime debarment of legislators to contest elections after serving their sentence. The Bench stated the said issue will be considered later.
Lastly, on the issue of withdrawal of cases against legislators, the Bench clarified that there is no blanket order prohibiting the withdrawal of cases against them.
Malicious prosecutions can be withdrawn, but only after the HC has examined the same, the Supreme Court said.
Before concluding the matter, the Bench also remarked that the Central Government shall provide the requisite infrastructure so as to facilitate daily hearing of cases and directions shall also be passed to the HCs (E-Committees) for utilization of funds already dispersed by the Central government. (ANI)