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SC refers pleas on lawmakers facing trial to Constitution Bench

The Supreme Court on Tuesday referred to the Chief Justice pleas, raising the question as to when lawmakers facing criminal trial would stand disqualified for setting up a Constitution Bench, saying such issues needed to be decided by larger Benches.

A three-judge Bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the petitions be sent to Chief Justice TS Thakur for constituting a five-judge Bench to deal with the matter. The court said the larger Bench would deal with the question as to when can a legislator be disqualified.

“Can a legislator, facing criminal trial, be disqualified at conviction or at the framing of charges in the case?” the Bench asked.

The court was hearing a petition filed by NGO Public Interest Foundation on the issue. 

BJP leader and advocate Ashwani Kumar Updhaya has also filed a plea, seeking a direction to the Centre and others “to bring in electoral reform and to make rules... and Code of Conduct for de-criminalisation and de-communalisation of politics and for eradication of corruption, casteism and nepotism from electoral system.” 

Earlier, the Apex Court had set a deadline of one year for lower courts to complete trial in criminal cases involving sitting MPs and MLAs. It had also said that 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 a legislative body during the pendency of case, the court had 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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