AIR spotlight summary: Setting up of special courts for the trial of politicians
SC is setting up a plan to exclusively try pending criminal cases against politicians and law makers by constituting special courts on the lines of Fast track courts.
This is an important development given the fact that we are faced with criminalization of politics at every level right from gross root level to parliament level. Many politicians are facing criminal charges.
This is significant because country should strive for corruption free and elimination of criminalization of politics. If the cases are pending against law makers for a long time then it’s neither good for them nor the people of the country. If they are innocent then they should be adjudged not guilty and in case of convictions they should be punished.
As many as 1352 politicians are involved and at the same time our courts are overburdened. So if we go by the normal procedure it will take lot of time. SC, in 2014, has already passed an order and they have decided a limit of one year.
Recently, SC realized that unless the special courts are constituted for this purpose. By now they came up with this solution and this has a great significance.
SC has talked about setting up of special court on the lines of Fast track courts. What are these fast track courts?
Fast track courts are different than the normal courts; instead of routinely waiting for your turn judges are allocated, time is allocated and cases are heard on day to day basis. As a result of that the valuable time of Judiciary will saved and cases will be closed in a short span of time.
In the case of UK and US, even in ordinary criminal trial, once the evidence is ready, they do it from day to day basis instead of waiting for long time. This reduces the case where people taking advantage of delay in judgements.
The principle is very clear that the guilty should be punished and innocent should not be punished.
While coming to the problem faced by the criminal justice system and judicial system in general the court has asked central government to present a scheme in 6 weeks. Then SC will take up the matter in December.
Since it affects the entire country, the SC itself said in national interest. Central government is in a much more good position to come up with much needed solution in coordination with the state governments. SC is suggesting on the lines of fast track courts, centre should fund these special courts.
What are the implications of life time ban on politicians who are convicted?
The court is dealing with the petition that demanded a life time ban on politicians who are convicted and sentenced for any criminal offence. What is important is right from the beginning if such cases are decided and then accordingly action is taken.
EC has already written to the government, supported the demand of petitioners that there should be life time ban on convicted politicians.
Generally the political parties are reluctant in taking any stand on such issues irrespective of their ideological lenience. Perhaps that is the reason in last 5-6 years; most of the electoral reforms have come from SC.
Politicians if they are left to regulate themselves will not regulate themselves. In fact it’s a human nature. Hence people still place highest confidence and trust in judiciary.
In many cases it is the SC or HC decision which have really initiated the action like in environmental cases In this case also it is the leadership of the SC will make this thing happen.
Because disqualification under RPA act is for 6 years but the demand is that instead of 6 years plus whatever may be that term of the sentence, the convicted politicians should be completely out of politics.
In India implicating somebody on a false case is not too difficult. It goes on for years. It is prone to misuse by the rival political leaders.
So, putting a complete ban for life is not suggestible in the Indian political system.
Law commission report on criminalisation of politics, it is recommended various measures to clean up the politics. But unfortunately no action on that has been taken. The political parties are not enthusiastic about electoral reforms.
How is this entire system coping up with issue of pendency in general?
SC mentioned that lots of cases are pending in trial courts, and on an average a trial court judge is dealing with 4200 cases.
Indian judges are overburdened. Apart from judicial decision, they have to deal with a lot of administrative works.
There is report by a committee setup by SC which pointed out that, the pendency of cases are likely to increase manifold because of various reasons like rise in literacy rates, improvement financial conditions. People are in a position to assert their right and more people will go to courts. So, accordingly the no of judges should be increased.
Judge population ratio is one of the poorest in India. We are not spending enough on judicial delivery system which required for its improvement. Judicial expenses are very less as compared to advanced countries. The government has to pay attention to that part also because judiciary is the backbone of any democracy.
Will fast tracking of only the cases related to politicians, violate Right to equality?
There are many politicians saying why should our cases are fast tracked while others not. And this violates Right to equality.
But, right form the very beginning, SC has made a clarification that like are to treated alike and those who are different treated differently.
Politicians, administrators are different from ordinary people. They have more powers than ordinary people. Hence, cases related to them should be treated differently.
Setting up of a special court on the lines of fast track courts is a significant development in our judicial system. This development may lead to decriminalisation and cleaning up of politics.