Face is the index of the status of health of a person, and the capital of a nation is the index of a country’s state of affairs. Delhi, the national capital of India, also gives ample opportunity to see how the anti-BJP AAP leaders ruling the states are ‘hounded’ by the Central investigating agencies under Union Government led by PM Narendra Modi, as Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has allegedly claimed. What is happening or being done through accusations and counter accusations are indeed a serious socio-political concern irrespective of merits and demerits of the cases that are pending in thousands in the country against politicians.
To begin with, let us start with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. He has alleged that BJP keeps accusing us of corruption – they have found nothing – not one paisa. They have attacked Manish Sisodia, tore his cushions and mattresses – found not a paisa. Over the last 7 years they have filed 167 cases against AAP leaders – not one has been proved in court. About 800 probe agency officers are dedicated only to find a paisa-worth of wrongdoing by AAP. They have found nothing.
The number of cases are too high to ignore, since it smacks witch hunting by the BJP led government at the Centre, because the investigating agencies are not quick in finding evidences against accused persons, resulting in cases pending in courts. Prosecution is weak, and hence the suspicion, though the cases help the BJP indirectly by creating too many hurdles in political growth of anti-BJP political leaders.
In fact, cases against the political leaders move very slow in the courts of the country and are increasing. Only in February, the Supreme Court was informed that cases pending against sitting and former MPs/MLAs had increased from 4,110 in December 2018 to 4,984 in December 2021. Amicus Curiae Vijay Hansaria had said, “Some of these cases were pending for more than three decades. 2,324 cases were against sitting legislators, and 1,675 cases were against former legislators. In 1,991 cases, even charges were not framed. 264 cases were pending due to stay granted by the High Courts.”
Another report submitted by Hansaria only 10 days ago in the Supreme Court enumerated the criminal cases against elected representative in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies pending for at least five years. The report was a compilation of the court based reports filed by only 20 States and Union Territories which mentioned a total of 3096 criminal cases pending against MPs and MLAs, both sitting and former, out of which 962 have been pending for over five years. It was 17th report submitted by Amicus Curiae since 2016 which did not even included cases filed in even bigger states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, and Telangana.
It is a serious concern that 16 States and UTs did not informed about the status of cases involving politicians though the top court had directed States/UTs to furnish the information in order to understand the requirement for additional special courts to try MPs/MLAs cases and to designate more judges for hearing such cases. For fast tracking the hearing on such cases, the Supreme Court had also asked the high courts to furnish information on the number of judges allocated to conduct the trials, the case load per judge and the steps which have been taken to ensure the expeditious conclusion of the trials of these cases. However, out of 25 high courts, only 16 responded to the top court’s order.
Modi government has always been claiming zero-tolerance in respect of corruption and other criminal cases against politicians in the country, which is read by people as ‘anti-BJP politicians’, since the BJP leadership is known to avoid actions against their own party leaders across the country, and allegations of corruption labelled against BJP leaders by political parties in opposition or even by central investigating agencies or by Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) are simply kept in the shelves and allegations are dismissed either as politically motivated or lacking substance. On the other hand opposition leaders are hounded though investigating agencies have been unable to produce admissible evidence in courts resulting in their pendency for years.
The performance of the Central Investigating Agencies, like Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED), and National Investigating Agency (NIA) are also very poor.
Even according to the report presented in the Supreme Court, ED cases are pending against 51 MPs which included the former MPs and 71 MLAs and present and former members of legislative councils of states. The ED report, however, did not specify how many of these related to sitting members.
CBI has informed the Supreme Court of India though a separate report that 121 cases are pending trial against present and former MPs and MLAs. The number of present and formers MPs were 51, out of which 14 are sitting MPs. Five MPs have already been dead, who cannot now defend themselves against the allegations. As for the present and past MLAs, a total of 112 cases are pending, out of which 34 are sitting, 78 are former, and 9 are dead.
As for the NIA, they are probing four cases of which two involve MPs/MLAs. Narcotics Bureau said that there were no cases with them involving MPs or MLAs.
Amicus Curiae has said, “the matter is serious as nearly 30 per cent cases against MPs/MLAs are pending over five years.
Among the States/UTs which submitted details, the highest number of cases pending over five years was reported in Odisha (323 out of 454 cases) followed by Maharashtra (169 out of 482 cases). Delhi reported 93 cases of which 27 are pending for over 5 years. Maharashtra (482) reported the highest number of overall cases, followed by Odisha (454), Kerala (384), Madhya Pradesh (329) and Tamil Nadu (260). (IPA Service)