Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday stoutly defended the move to set up fast-track courts for dealing exclusively with criminal cases against politicians, saying lawmakers should take the lead in setting an example.
Responding to opposition concerns in the Rajya Sabha over the message setting up of special courts to try politicians will send, he said Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.
Jaitley, who is also the Leader of the House, said he was of the personal opinion that like Caesar’s wife, lawmakers should be above suspicion.
As elected representatives, can lawmakers say that their trial should be delayed, he said, asking political parties to rise and set an example.
“You are class apart… you are law makers. You should set the example,” he said.
Earlier, opposition parties led by Congress and SP raised the issue of Supreme Court’s recent direction to the Centre to draft a scheme for setting up fast-track courts to deal exclusively with criminal cases involving legislators and political persons.
Raising the issue through a ‘point-of-order’, Naresh Agrawal (SP) said Article 14 of the Constitution provides for equity before law and elected representatives are on par with other citizens.
While there are no special courts for fast-track trial of terrorists and dreaded criminals, setting up one for elected representatives would create misleading perception about politicians, he said.
He questioned the government’s affidavit supporting setting up of the fast-track courts.
Anand Sharma (Cong) said while there is no question of delaying prosecution of anyone, it would tantamount to profiling and excessive vilification of law makers if a perception is created that the fast-track courts are needed for the elected representatives only.
The Government, he said, should ensure that enough funds are allocated for creation of enough courts for fast-track trial of all.
But singling out only the elected representatives will create a public perception that would otherwise have an inherent potential of being abused by the government of the day, he said.
Majeed Memon (NCP) said if certain section is treated separately, it may be bordering on infringement of Article 14. Speedy justice should be delivered to all citizens, he added.
KTS Tulsi (Nominated) asked who would do justice to the under trials languishing in jail for 10-15 years.
C M Ramesh (TDP) however supported the fast-track courts saying it was very correct decision.
Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) asked if the government would also set up special courts for prosecuting those who have defrauded the country of Rs 8.5 lakh crore.
Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said he will give a ruling on the point of order at an appropriate time.