The Supreme Court has clarified that it is not unconstitutional to set up special courts for cases involving MPs and MLAs.
- The Supreme Court has clarified that MPs/MLAs constitute a class in themselves. In this way special courts can be formed for speedy trial of criminal cases against MPs/MLAs, which is in public interest.
- Last year, the Madras High Court had said that setting up of such special courts is not “legally permissible”. The reason is that a Special Court set up to try an MP or an MLA can violate the jurisdiction of an already existing Special Court under any Act. Special courts can only be crime centric, not criminal centric.
- For example, special courts constituted under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act (POCSO) or the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (PCA).
- However, the Supreme Court has also agreed to examine the fact whether these Special Courts deprive the accused of their right of appeal, as the Special Court will have the powers of a Court of Session.
- Generally, if an accused fails/proves guilty before the Magistrate, he can file an appeal before the Sessions Court. The Court of Session is the first appellate court and the High Court is the second appellate court.
- However, in the case of Special Courts, the accused will not have the right to defend his case before the Magistrate. Thus, his right to prefer his first appeal before the Court of Session would also be lost.
- In the year 2017, the Supreme Court ordered setting up of special courts across the country for speedy disposal of long pending cases of MPs/MLAs.
- This decision was needed, as more than 4,400 criminal cases ranging from corruption to money-laundering were pending for decades.
Source – The Hindu