Constitute special courts to try criminal cases involving politicians: SC

Can hold national and state elections together from September 2018 Election Commission

The ASG was noncommittal about a suggestion by PIL petitioners for a life-time ban on convicted politicians.

Noting that the average number of cases each court in the country was now handling was over 4,000 in subordinate judiciary, the Bench said unless a court deals exclusively with cases involving politicians, it would be hard to complete the trial within a year.

In around 1,581 cases involving politicians since 2014, the top court also sought the status of the trial and since 2014 how many fresh cases have been filed against politicians and lawmakers in three years.

'If the politician is serving when he's convicted, he shouldn't be allowed to contest again, ' Vikas Singh, an advocate who has petitioned the Supreme Court for the lifetime ban, told AFP. A bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha asked the Centre to indicate how much money it was willing to allocate for setting up fast-track courts for concluding the trials within a year. "Can you afford to remain silent?"

The next date of hearing has been fixed as December 13, by the Supreme Court.

"Is silence an option for you (ECI)?" She also favoured special courts to fast track pending criminal cases.

The apex court also said the issue of appointment of judicial officers, public prosecutors, court staff and infrastructure for these special courts would be dealt with by it if required.

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Electoral reforms in India have been a long-pending change that the people of the country want to see because the number of criminals entering the political system has only increased over the years.

When Nadkarni said, "Government of India's stand is that decriminalisation of politics has to be done", the Bench asked, "Can there by any other stand?"

The Central government through Additional Solicitor General Atmaram Nadkarni submitted that the Union Government would not be averse to setting up of Special Courts to try criminal cases/offences involving political persons for expeditious disposal of the same.

On Tuesday, the court also wanted to know as to how many lawmakers in the parliament were facing criminal cases and the charges that have been levelled against them, and was told that 34 per cent of the sitting MPs, or a total of 184, faced criminal cases.

Various pleas have knocked the Supreme Court's door arguing that the ban should be lifetime at par with the judiciary and executive where a person can not hold office for life post-conviction.

Referring to the ECI's reply, the apex court said it was clear that the poll panel has supported the cause espoused by petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking a life ban for convicted politicians.

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