In what could prove to be a significant step in the process of decriminalisation of politics, the Supreme Court on Monday set a deadline of one year for lower courts to complete the trial in cases involving MPs and MLAs.
The apex court bench headed by Justice RM Lodha said the offences for which trial has to conclude within one year are those mentioned under Sections 8(1), 8(2) and 8(3) of the Representation of People Act.
The SC said the trial judge will have to explain to the Chief Justice of High Court if he fails to complete trial within a year of framing of charges. The bench, however, said the period can be extended by the Chief Justice if he is satisfied with the reason given by trial judge for not completing the trial within this period.
The SC further stated that the trial in cases involving MPs and MLAs are to be conducted on day-to-day basis.
As the trial is kept pending for years, lawmakers continue to enjoy membership of the legislative body despite being charged in a heinous offence, the court noted.
The court direction came on a petition filed by NGO Public Interest Foundation which sought to decriminalise the electoral politics in the country.
The NGO contended that MPs and MLAs continue to be Members of Parliament and Assembly for a long time due to delay in proceedings.