Tuesday, October 19, 2021
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Privileges of Lawmakers not unlimited


I f committing a crime by an ordinary Indian citizen must mandatorily visit one with what the law says to face its rigours, seldom has it been seen that the State withdraws a criminal case filed against him or her on account of a crime having been committed . That fact and a reality every common citizen is realising and is taking it as the ‘rule of law’ to be respected. Why cannot such a uniformity of application of laws be there in case of the Lawmakers of this country too , is the moot question. In other words, when a Lawmaker commits a crime , he or she is supposed to be proceeded against in the same manner as in case of a common citizen to the extent of leaving up to courts to decide depending upon the nature and the extent of the crime. Having said so, there have been instances when many State Governments to cater to the political ”compulsions” of voter constituencies, criminal cases filed against politicians ,elected members of legislatures, nominated members etc used to withdraw pending criminal cases from the courts and in a sense covertly declare them innocents or admitting that those in the (previous) Government had erred and probably had ”framed” the concerned Law maker. An amicus curiae having highlighted such practice , though rare, and brought into the notice of the apex court as to how states like Maharashtra, Uttrakhand, Uttar Pradesh , Karnataka etc are using Section 321 of CrPC to withdraw cases against politicians. Dealing with this practice , now , in a different way but one increasingly longed for by the people of this country , a bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice N .V. Ramana has curtailed the powers of the state prosecutors by ordering that they cannot withdraw prosecution against the accused lawmakers under Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). Strong displeasure was expressed by the court over non filing of status report by the Central Government and its agencies to monitor criminal cases against politicians. CBI and other agencies have, understandably , to live up to their organisational autonomy and standing in complying with the requirements in such cases which could speed up the prosecution exercise to lead to deciding and disposing of the same. That a special bench at the apex court was going to be set up to monitor such cases against the politicians as decided by the SC would herald a new chapter in dealing with cases of politicians involved in various types of crimes and possibly their conviction as the case be . It is a message , clear and loud, by the country’s highest court that everyone was equal before law not only in theory but the same must be practiced as well. There is the second part of the story and that is in respect of how much not that easy is to have a criminal case registered against an erring politician and then seeing it reaching up to the levels of prosecution stage, implying that such Lawmakers , at the outset, usually make it very difficult to have a case registered against them after being involved in committing a crime. Witnesses are intimidated, evidences get tampered with or are rendered ineffective due to the long time factor and even Police at times feels reluctant to go ahead because of the factors of the influence and political clout at play. It , therefore, implies that if at all there is a criminal case filed and is in the stage of prosecution , it is no mean an achievement which should never be allowed to be undermined by withdrawing such cases only to embolden the accused and perhaps posing lot many problems for active witnesses and the like pertaining to a particular case. Hence, without the order of the High Court in suomotu case pursuant to the apex court order , no case can be withdrawn from the court in respect of an accused MP or an MLA whatever the case be. The order of the SC assumes its own importance and is a clear message for the Lawmakers as well as the State Governments.

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