The Supreme Court has asked high courts across the country to speed up the resolution of criminal cases against politicians. More than 4,000 criminal cases are pending against sitting and former members of Parliament (MPs) and state assemblies, some for more than three decades, the Supreme Court was told on Tuesday.
The court was hearing a petition by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, seeking a lifetime ban on politicians convicted in criminal cases. Upadhyay challenged the provisions of the Representation of the People Act 1951, which bars convicted politicians from contesting elections for six years after serving a jail term.
Data from an official report shows sitting and former MPs and MLAs have 4,122 criminal cases pending against them, with sitting legislators accounting for more than half of that number. Some of these cases have been pending for three decades even as many involve grave offenses punishable by life imprisonment or death.
Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of criminal cases against politicians (992), followed by Odisha (331) and Tamil Nadu (321).