Millennium Post

Parties welcome apex court ruling on speedy trial of lawmakers

Parties welcome apex court ruling on speedy trial of lawmakers
While main opposition BJP hailed it as an order that strikes a balance, Congress cheered the fact that the Supreme Court had put spotlight on the issue of speedy trial.

Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said the existing laws, which provide for disqualification of elected representatives and debar people from contesting elections only upon conviction, had led to a disconnect between the legal requirement and public opinion.

The court order, he said, respects the principle that a person is presumed to be innocent till held guilty and also provides a filter against motivated chargesheets.

‘It doesn’t debar persons on being merely charged. At the same time no MP or MLA has a right to a delayed trial. Since he holds a public office, he must be like Caesar’s wife beyond suspicion,’ said the noted lawyer.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said his party full backs and supports the SC judgement as the lack of speedy trial was the ‘scourge of delay’ in completion of the legal procoss and remained a ‘blot’ on the otherwise spotless legal system.

He said the apex court has applied internal checks on courts. ‘We hope that this time limit of one year is respected and implemented,’ he said.

Political parties have argued, Jaitley said, that under law there is a presumption of innocence till somebody is held guilty and the framing of a charge itself being a disqualification can lead to an abuse of the process.

‘What then is the solution? Can the system remain a mute spectator? The Supreme Court has attempted to find a solution... I welcome the order. It is a step in the right direction,’ the BJP leader said. The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) also welcomed it.

‘The apex court’s order that trial in cases against elected representatives be completed in a year by conducting ay-to-day hearings is welcome. Even the Law Commission previously recommended the same,’ TDP politburo member Yanamala Ramakrishnudu said in a statement.

The Supreme Court on Monday set a time period of one year for lower courts to complete trial in criminal cases involving sitting MPs and MLAs.

The apex court said all such proceedings involving lawmakers must be conducted on a day-to-day basis.

In order to expedite proceedings against lawmakers who continue to enjoy membership of legislative body during the pendency of case, a bench headed by Justice R M Lodha also said that lower courts will have to give explanation to the Chief Justice of the respective high court if the trial is not completed within a year.
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