Synopsis: The suo motu proceedings come in compliance with the orders of the Supreme Court in a PIL filed by Ashwini Kumar seeking a lifetime bar from contesting elections for convicted politicians.
The High Court of Orissa has, on its own motion, initiated hearings on the issue of how many cases against former and sitting legislators are pending and on how they can be disposed of expeditiously.
In the wake of pending litigation at the Supreme Court concerning the plea of lawyer Ashwini Kumar demanding a lifetime bar on convicted politicians from contesting elections and for expediting the disposal of cases against legislators, this suo motu case was taken up.
Advocate General AK Parija has now been ordered by the High Court Bench comprising of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Dr BR Sarangi to file an affidavit with information of criminal cases pending in courts across the state against former and present MPs and MLAs.
It was also demanded that the Registrar-General of the High Court record the infrastructure in place in order to dispose of these types of cases and, if possible, to hasten the same.
In addition, it is also proposed that the details of cases stayed by the Supreme Court, High Court, or Sessions Courts will be submitted to the High Court at the next hearing.
Lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay had previously moved a PIL to the Supreme Court demanding the immediate settlement of criminal proceedings against former and current MPs and MLAs. In the midst of this litigation, the Supreme Court ordered high courts around the country to compile a list of criminal charges against former and current politicians.
In the case of Vijay Hansaria, the amicus curiae told the Apex Court on 10 September that a total of 4,442 cases are pending against Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) in India, of which 2,556 sitting legislators have yet to be prosecuted.
In its submissions, for each area, the amicus recommended the constitution of special courts to deal with cases involving legislators, also proposing that adjournments may only be permitted under “rare and extraordinary situations and for reasons to be reported.”
In view of the vulnerability of witnesses and the influence of legislators, the establishment of witness protection schemes is also one of the suggestions made.
The hearings before the Orissa High Court are expected to continue on 19th October 2020.