In a significant direction which would have bearing on the ongoing trials against MPs and MLAs in criminal cases, the Supreme Court on Monday asked the lower courts to complete their trials within a year after framing of charges against the legislators.
A bench headed by Justice RM Lodha said the trial judge will have to explain to the chief justice of the high court concerned if he fails to complete the trial within a year of framing of charges.
The bench, also comprising justice Kurian Joseph, however, said the period can be extended by the chief justice of respective high court if he is satisfied with the reason given by trial judge for not completing the trial within this period.
The apex court also said all such proceedings involving lawmakers must be conducted on a day-to-day basis in order to expedite the trial.
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 apex court bench noted.
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 bench further said adding the trial to be conducted on day-to-day basis.
The bench's direction came while hearing a public interest 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.