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Karnataka High Court takes action to expedite cases involving MPs,

The Karnataka High Court today asked the court’s Registrar General to file a suo motu plea regarding the disposal of pending criminal cases against MLAs and MPs, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent directions.

A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Ashok S Kinagi has issued the direction in consideration of the apex court’s direction asking the Chief Justices of the High Courts to formulate an action plan for disposal of criminal cases pending against MPs and MLAs. The suo motu petition will be heard on September 23, where the Advocate General will either represent the State or nominate the Additional Advocate General. Amicus curiae Senior Advocate Aditya Sondhi will assist the Court.

The apex court last week passed a slew of directions to the chief justices of every high court in order to ensure expeditious disposal of pending criminal cases against the sitting/former Legislators (MPs and MLAs).

The directives included advice to the chief justices to personally oversee such cases. A three-judge bench of Justices N.V. Ramana, Surya Kant and Hrishikesh Roy opined that the present case is of paramount importance, because special consideration was not only required due to rise of criminalisation in politics but also due to the power that elected representatives (sitting or former) wield, to influence or hamper effective prosecution.

The court passed its order on the petition filed by BJP spokesperson and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, seeking speedy disposal of criminal cases against the elected representatives of Parliament and the legislature. The court had appointed Senior Advocate Vijay Hansaria as the Amicus Curiae in the matter. The Amicus had filed the supplementary report on the basis of information furnished by ten of high courts.

The Amicus Curiae had pointed out the various reasons behind this backlog of pending criminal cases against the sitting/former legislators (MPs & MLAs). He said that proceedings in a number of cases have been stayed by various high courts and many of the states do not have the requisite infrastructure to deal with these cases. In States such as Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana & Maharashtra only one Special court has constituted.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, had assured the Court that all pending cases which have been stayed by the High Courts, must be concluded within a time bound manner, preferably within one month. He said the state governments should provide the necessary infrastructure within one month, as Central Government has already granted funds, and Central Agencies, like the CBI & the Enforcement Directorate, will pursue matters effectively and ensure that pending investigation/trial reach its logical conclusion.

The Supreme Court has directed the Chief Justices of all High Courts to:

· formulate action plan on rationalization of number of special courts.

· personally monitor trials.

· offer suggestions to Amicus for speedy disposal.

· submit action plan with comments and suggestions to Amicus and Secretary General of Supreme Court within a week.

· to list cases where stay has been granted and to designate separate bench to hear them. To check whether stay needs to be continued and hear them on day-to-day basis to dispose them quickly.