New Delhi: In an important move to decriminalise politics, the Supreme Court has today ordered that trial in criminal cases against lawmakers must be concluded within a year of charges being framed.
It was hearing a Public Interest Litigation or PIL filed by an NGO that sought quick trial in criminal cases involving MPs and MLAs. It pleaded that they continue to enjoy the membership of legislative bodies for many years despite being charged with serious offences, as trial drags on.
In a landmark step last year, the Supreme Court ruled that lawmakers convicted of a crime will stand disqualified immediately. With the conclusion of trial within a year now mandatory, many prominent politicians who are contesting the general elections next month could face disqualification soon if convicted in the cases against them.
The top court said today that if a lower court is unable to complete trial within a year, it will have to submit an explanation and seek extension of trial from the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court. The Supreme Court also directed that trials must be conducted on a day-to-day basis.