The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed trial courts here to decide on priority the pending criminal cases against former and present lawmakers.
The direction was passed by a bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma after considering the low disposal rate of such cases.
The court was hearing its own suo motu case concerning the disposal of criminal cases against Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs).
“Disposal rate is so low. Disposal is almost zero,” the court observed during the hearing.
“After careful consideration of the status report (for December 2022) and keeping in view of the pendency of cases, the special courts and the learned ACMMs (additional chief metropolitan magistrates) are directed to give priority to achieve final disposal in the cases relating to the sitting and former MP/MLAs as already directed earlier,” ordered the bench also comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad.
The court directed its registrar general to communicate the directions to the special courts within three days.
In October 2020, the high court had initiated suo motu proceedings on the Supreme Court’s direction to all high courts to monitor pending criminal cases against MPs and MLAs, and asked the Centre, the Delhi government and the Delhi High Court registry to state the steps taken by them in this regard.
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In May last year, the court was informed that over 80 criminal cases were pending against MPs and MLAs before trial courts in the national capital.
In April last year, the high court had directed trial courts to give priority to the cases relating to sitting and former MPs and MLAs, and asked its administrative side to file a monthly status report with respect to the status of pendency of such cases.
The court had then appointed senior advocate Sandeep Sethi to act as an amicus curiae to assist in the proceedings and suggest further measures to ensure expeditious disposal of the cases against sitting and former MPs and MLAs.
The Supreme Court, in September 2020, had asked the chief justices of all high courts to forthwith list before an appropriate bench all pending criminal cases involving sitting and former lawmakers in which stay was granted.
The direction came on a petition which was filed in 2016 and raised the issue of inordinately delay in disposal of criminal cases against former and sitting lawmakers.
The apex court had issued the direction after observing that there has been “no substantial improvement” in disposal of pending criminal cases against sitting and former lawmakers.
The matter would be heard next on May 4.