Delhi HC asks judges to prioritise hearing in criminal cases against MPs/MLAs

We request all the judges to refrain from adjourning the subject cases except for rare and compelling reasons, the bench said

Representative image of Delhi High Court logo (photo: PTI)
Representative image of Delhi High Court logo (photo: PTI)
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PTI

The Delhi High Court has asked its judges to give priority to the criminal cases pending before them against members of Parliament and legislative assemblies to ensure their expeditious and effective disposal.

The high court was informed by its registry that presently there are 34 pending cases or appeals or revisions involving MPs and MLAs before a single judge bench of the high court in which orders of stay of trial have been passed and are continuing for a period of more than six months.

A bench of acting chief justice Manmohan and justice Manmeet PS Arora transferred the cases from the single judge concerned and directed the registry to re-allocate or re-distribute those 34 cases to other courts or benches as is considered appropriate and effective for their expeditious disposal so that stay applications are disposed of expeditiously and trial of such cases can conclude before the designated special courts.

“In line with the directives passed by the Chief Justice of India....we direct the registry of this court to circulate this order to brother and sister judges assigned with such cases so that priority is given to all criminal cases/appeals/revisions pending before them against the members of Parliament and Legislative Assemblies, as it is essential for expeditious and effective disposal of such cases,” the division bench said in an order passed on 2 April.

According to the present roster, justice Swarana Kanta Sharma’s court is the designated special court in the high court to deal with MPs and MLAs cases.

On Thursday, when several MP/MLA cases came up for hearing before justice Sharma, the court said it could not hear them as she had received a judicial order as per which certain cases have been transferred from this court. The court then listed those matters for another date.

Regarding the cases involving lawmakers pending before district courts, the high court directed the designated courts concerned to give priority, first of all, criminal cases against MPs and MLAs punishable with death or life imprisonment, then to cases punishable with imprisonment for five years or more and thereafter hear other cases.

“We also request all the judges to refrain from adjourning the subject cases except for rare and compelling reasons,” the bench said and listed the matter for further hearing on 20 May.

The high court was hearing a case it had initiated on its own (suo motu) about disposal of criminal cases against Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs).

In October 2020, the Delhi High Court initiated suo motu proceedings on the Supreme Court's direction to all high courts to monitor the pending criminal cases against MPs and MLAs and asked the Centre, Delhi government and the Delhi High Court registry to state the steps taken by them about it.


In April 2022, the high court directed the trial courts to give priority to the cases relating to the sitting and the former MPs/ MLAs and asked its administrative side to file a monthly status report with respect to the status of pendency of such cases.

The court had then appointed senior advocate Sandeep Sethi to act as amicus curiae to assist in the proceedings and suggest further measures to ensure expeditious disposal of such cases.

The Supreme Court had in September 2020 asked the chief justices of all high courts to forthwith list before an appropriate bench all pending criminal cases involving sitting and former lawmakers where stay had been granted.

The direction came on a petition filed in 2016 which raised the issue of inordinately delay in the disposal of criminal cases against former and sitting lawmakers.

The apex court had issued the direction after observing that there has been “no substantial improvement” in the disposal of pending criminal cases against them.

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