The SC has allowed for the creation of as many courts as are required in Kerala and Bihar to hear trials against legislators and other public servants.

The Supreme Court reportedly directed special courts to be constituted in each district of Kerala and Bihar on Tuesday, which are to be tasked with conducting the trials of pending criminal cases of present and former MPs and MLAs, and other public servants. 

Livelaw reports that the SC directed the High Courts of Kerala and Bihar to do away with pending cases on a priority basis, with serious offences that mandate punishments of capital punishment or life imprisonment being taken up first. The Hindu reports that the SC has also sought reports from the Patna and Kerala HC regarding compliance with and progress on the same by December 14. 

The bench of comprising of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph was hearing the plea filed by BJP leader Ashwani Kumar Upadhyay, requesting adequate judicial infrastructure to try cases against legislators, public servants and judicial officials. 

The Hindu reports that the court directed the sending back of such cases from already-constituted Special Courts to these jurisdictional district courts. It has also allowed for the creation of as many courts as required in Kerala and Bihar to hear trials against legislators and other public servants. 

Vijay Hansaria, the amicus curiae in the case, had pointed out that there were 4,122 cases pending against current and former MPs and MLAs across the country, and that some of the cases, including for crimes mandating life imprisonment, had been pending for more than three decades. Vijay also pointed out that in many of these cases, charges had not even been framed. This shows the need for some remedy to address pending cases against public servants and representatives.

A 2016 Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) study found that with 63% of sitting MLAs in Kerala having criminal charges against them, Kerala’s state legislature has the highest percentage of currently sitting criminally accused MLAs in the country. Of the 19 ministers sworn in on May 2016, 17 of them had pending criminal cases against them, including three ministers who reported serious criminal cases pending against them.

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