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SC: Should criminal cases against powerful people be fast-tracked?

The Supreme Court Tuesday sought the views of all states on whether criminal cases in which the accused is an influential person should be fast-tracked. A Bench led by Justice A K Patnaik issued notices to the state governments,asking them to file affidavits. The Bench called for the states’ responses after the Law Commission favoured […]

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: November 13, 2013 12:12:46 am

The Supreme Court Tuesday sought the views of all states on whether criminal cases in which the accused is an influential person should be fast-tracked. A Bench led by Justice A K Patnaik issued notices to the state governments,asking them to file affidavits.

The Bench called for the states’ responses after the Law Commission favoured fast-track trials in cases against influential people,given that investigation and trial in such cases is often delayed.

“This is because of the influence they can wield with the police and witnesses. Delays are also often caused by their prolonged abstinence from the court proceedings and the police not taking effective steps to produce them in court,” the Law Commission had said in its reply to the court’s query.

The court is hearing a petition that has sought laying down of guidelines for speedy probe and trial in cases involving important public functionaries.

The PIL,filed in 2004 by advocate V K Ohri,had cited the instance of Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren,who allegedly skirted the law in a criminal case registered against him in 1975 and held important public positions,including the office of a Union minister. Soren was acquitted by the Jharkhand High Court as all the witnesses in the three-decade-old case had died,the advocate said.

Among the 11-point suggestions,the advocate had said that the trial of all “influential persons” should be monitored by the designated judge of the concerned High Court and a cell in the High Court should collect information relating to the cases involving influential persons in trial courts. The Supreme Court will now hear the matter in January next year.

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