Libertatem Magazine

Gujarat High Court Takes Suo Moto Cognizance to Expedite Pending Trials against Legislators

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The Division Bench of Gujarat High Court has registered a suo moto case to adhere to the directions of the Supreme Court. It has actively participated in the process of expediting investigations and trials against MP/ MLAs accused of various crimes. The matter shall be presented before the Chief Justice of the High Court on November 04, 2020.   

Background of the Case

On 16.09.2020, the Supreme Court directed the lower judiciary and functionaries of the High Courts by passing an interim order in a case of a writ petition. The matter pertained to inordinate delay in investigation and criminal trials against Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assemblies. Despite various orders passed since 2016, the Court had failed to stream speedy dispensation of justice.

Therefore, in September’20, the Apex Court asserted that the charge-sheets must be filed in time and the Special Court must expedite such trials on a priority basis. Further, it called upon a report from amicus curiae for detailing the action plan devised by various High Courts.

Hence, the Gujarat High Court initiated a suo moto matter to monitor such criminal trials within the State of Gujarat.   

Court’s Directions/ Orders

In the report of the amicus curiae, some of the High Courts favored the constitution of Special Courts while most of them favored mandate for jurisdictional courts to take such cases on a priority basis.

In the present case, the Gujarat High Court has decided to monitor and expedite criminal proceedings in the local courts under its jurisdiction. The suo moto case was registered by the Division Bench comprising of Justice R.M. Chayya and Justice V.D. Nanavati. Further, the case shall be presented before the Chief Justice of Gujarat High Court on November 04, 2020.

Moreover, the High Court has issued an administrative order addressing all Principal District Judges to command over the expedition process in the impugned criminal cases. It has also requested the Public Prosecutors and Government Pleaders to provide the details of the cases wherein they represent the legislators accused of criminal offenses.    

Relevance of the Case

On the basis of the report dated 08.09.2020, about 175 cases are pending under the Prevention of Corruption Act and about 14 cases are pending under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act against sitting/former legislators.

These are in addition to the pending 4442 cases pending under various criminal offenses. Therefore, it becomes imperative in a democratic country that the citizens do not merely exercise their right to vote, but also get a pool of legitimate candidates for election. The judiciary must find a way around such accused legislators to ensure the smooth functioning of the country in a truly democratic sense.  

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