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Govt may amend law to put lawmakers’ trials on fast track

India on 07 October 2013
Location : New Delhi, India | Source : Times of India. Image Source: Times of India

NEW DELHI: The law ministry is working on an amendment in the law where trials against lawmakers charged with serious offences shall be completed within six months of filing of chargesheet. The proposed move is in anticipation of an adverse ruling from the Supreme Court which has scheduled a hearing on October 7 on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking ban on charged legislators from contesting elections.

Sources said the government is contemplating inserting a proviso in Section 309 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to specify that inquiries and trials in all cases involving MPs/MLAs, charged with serious crimes like rape and murder, shall be completed within six months of chargesheet being filed.

The other option being looked into is an amendment in the Representation of People Act that would similarly specify a time-bound trial of cases against lawmakers who have been charged. It will be either amendment in the CrPC or in the RP Act that would serve the purpose, a senior official said.

If a fresh amendment is carried out in CrPC, this will be the second major amendment this year in Section 309. A similar amendment in the act, brought in the light of the December 16 gang rape in Delhi, was introduced this year which provided that all trails in rape cases have to be completed within two months of the chargesheet being filed.

"In every such inquiry or trial, the proceedings shall be continued from day to day until all witnesses in attendance have been examined," the amendment for time-bound trials of rape cases said.

The apex court has asked the government to submit an affidavit on October 7 when it has scheduled the next hearing of a PIL filed by Public Interest Foundation (PIF) seeking a directive to the government on decriminalization of politics.

The PIL has sought fast-track courts for lawmakers charged with serious crimes and completing such trials in a fixed timeframe of six months. The petitioner has also sought a directive to the government to legislate several pending electoral reforms.

At the last hearing, the apex court had asked the government counsel what objections it had on the petitioner's pleas when the Election Commission had agreed to all of them. The government counsel sought time and promised to submit an affidavit on its stand.

The petitioner PIF had argued that even the Justice JS Verma committee, constituted by the government for proposing relevant amendments in laws for fast tracking trials in cases of heinous crimes, had suggested debarring lawmakers charged for serious crimes from contesting elections. Right now, only convicted MLAs and MPs are not allowed to contest.

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