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Millennium Post

When the law does good but we fail it

Supreme Court’s one-year deadline to complete trial against sitting MPs and MLAs in criminal cases is indeed a refreshing order that must not be lost in implementation. The top court’s directive to the lower courts to finish trial in cases involving the legislators themselves within a year of framing charges should ideally go a long way in cleaning up politics of the festering rot that has been bringing the political standards down for years now. Fast-tracking trials would not only ensure that criminals are systematically eliminated from the legislative apparatus at all levels, it would also allow less leg space to influence the trial proceedings from both corporate and political high commands. The bench led by Justice R M Lodha hits the nail on its head when it says that lower courts are liable to finish the trials on time, or else must submit a report to the chief justice of the concerned high court. Time-bound and transparently reported trials are the only way in which corruption can be targeted in a methodical manner, without letting those with vested interests set the agenda, including the corporatised mainstream media. Expediting trials, in addition, keeps the issue alive and allows the contentions to play out in the public sphere, drawing attention the criminalities and transgressions at the heart of the charges, without letting them fall off the sociopolitical radar. Moreover, the practice of keeping trials pending for years at a stretch gives criminally charged MPs and MLAs the allowance to carry on in office and influence the proceedings in myriad ways in their favour. The new SC ruling will thoroughly discourage it.

However, the courts must ensure that reaching a speedy conclusion does not hinder actual delivery of justice or fabrications are presented are evidence to acquit or indict a particular legislator. While the verdict is an endeavour to decriminalise politics, and is sure to act a preventive measure to block criminals from getting reelected, a close monitoring of the trials must be undertaken so as to avoid any undue fallouts. Corruption has become an endemic problem and despite having Jan Lokpal Act in place, the anti-graft law is still in need of further strengthening. Moreover, the union and state governments as well as others in the political establishment have tried their best oppose court verdict which would bar criminally charged legislators from contesting elections, claiming, not unjustifiably, that false allegations could be leveled to frame opponents in this game if snakes and ladders. However, if the delivery mechanism is itself bolstered, then it would only be a matter of time when the charges, if baseless, would be lifted, allowing the honest political player to return to the arena untainted. However, those sitting on mountains of scams and scandals would find it difficult to carry on with their malfeasance.
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