The Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed a plea by BJP leader and former MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa that he cannot be tried by a special court, constituted to deal with cases against MPs or MLAs, in a criminal complaint as it was filed when he was no longer a legislator.
The high court, in its judgment, referred to various orders passed by the apex court on the issue and said it becomes clear that the special courts were constituted for dealing with cases against the legislators, that is, MPs or MLAs, whether sitting or former.
The high court said the counsel for Sirsa has failed to convince it as to how an expeditious trial can cause any prejudice to him.
Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma upheld the trial court’s order which had dismissed Sirsa’s plea seeking transfer or return of complaint against him on account of lack of jurisdiction.
“This court concurs with the decision of the additional chief metropolitan magistrate (ACMM), whereby it was observed that whether a sitting legislator commits an offence or an offence is allegedly committed by a former legislator, a case can be tried by the Special Court, set up for dealing with cases against the MPs/ MLAs whether sitting or former,” the high court said.
Special courts dealing with criminal cases involving MPs/ MLAs were constituted in Delhi in 2018 following the Supreme Court’s judgment to expedite trials dealing with criminal cases in which lawmakers are involved.
Sirsa, who had switched from the Shiromani Akali Dal to the BJP in December 2021, in his plea said that he had become an MLA on April 14, 2017.
However, he had ceased to be an MLA on February 11, 2020.
He said a criminal complaint had been filed against him pertaining to the period when he had ceased to be an MLA since the allegations relate to the period post-February 16, 2020 and the case pending against him could not have been tried by a Special Court dealing with cases against MPs/ MLAs.
The court order did not mention any other details of the case.
The court observed that whether the offence is allegedly committed by a sitting or former legislator, it can be tried by the special court.
“Therefore, the necessary inference that can essentially be drawn up from the above-mentioned reading of the four orders would lead to a conclusion that the special courts were constituted to try offences alleged against sitting or former MPs/ MLAs, and the Hon’ble Apex Court nowhere has observed that the special courts shall try only those offences where accused was a sitting MP/ MLA, at the time of commission of offence,” Justice Sharma said.
The high court said it lacked the jurisdiction to interpret the decision in a manner that deviates from the clear directions of the top court.
“In other words, this court cannot read something, in between the lines, which is neither the intent nor the content, finding or even obiter of the Hon’ble Apex Court,” it said.
The high court said there was no infirmity in the ACMM’s December 6, 2023 order.
The holistic reading of the top court’s judgment pointed out that the special courts can try offences pending against sitting or former MPs/ MLAs, and there is no specific bar for the trial of a person who had ceased to be an MP/MLA, when he had allegedly committed an offence, it said.