Centre's witch-hunt against anti-BJP politicians
Thousands of cases that lack evidence are pending for over five years
A person's face could indicate their health, and likewise, a country's capital could indicate its state of affairs. Delhi, India's national capital, shows us time and time again how anti-BJP AAP leaders are hounded by the Central investigating agencies under the Union Government led by PM Narendra Modi. Therefore, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's alleged claims are not to be dismissed. The saga of accusations and counter-accusations is indeed a serious socio-political concern, irrespective of the inherent merits or demerits of the cases pending in thousands against politicians.
The staggering number of cases against anti-BJP leaders makes it impossible to ignore claims that the BJP-led centre is exercising a witch-hunt. Not to mention, investigating agencies take eons of time to find evidences against accused persons, resulting in cases remaining pending in the courts. The case put forth by the prosecution is weak, which is the reason for the raised eyebrows. However, whether they're proven to be guilty or not, these cases indirectly help the BJP by creating hurdles in the political growth of anti-BJP political leaders.
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 the charges had not been framed. 264 cases were pending due to the 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 the 17th report submitted by Amicus Curiae since 2016, which did not even included cases filed in even bigger states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, and Telangana.
It is a serious concern that 16 States and UTs did not divulge the status of the cases involving politicians despite the top court directing them to furnish the information in order to understand the requirements for additional special courts to try MPs/MLAs cases and designate more judges for hearing. In order to fast-track 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 caseload per judge and the steps 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.
The Modi-government has claimed zero tolerance for corruption and other criminal cases against politicians in the country. But it is worthy to note that this stance is limited to those politicians that it deems ‘anti-BJP'. The BJP leadership is known to avoid actions against their own party leaders across the country. Allegations of corruption labelled against BJP leaders by political parties in opposition, the central investigating agencies, or even by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) are simply kept in the shelves. Further, some of these allegations are dismissed either as politically motivated or lacking substance. On the other hand, opposition leaders are ceaselessly questioned despite the lack of admissible evidence to courts, resulting in their pendency for years.
The performance of the Central Investigating Agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate (ED), and National Investigating Agency (NIA) are also very poor. According to the report presented in the Supreme Court, ED cases are pending against 51 MPs, which includes former MPs and 71 MLAs, and present and former members of the legislative councils of states. The ED report, however, does not specify how many of these are related to sitting members.
The CBI has informed the Supreme Court of India through a separate report that 121 cases are pending trial against present and former MPs and MLAs. The number of present and formers MPs is 51, out of which 14 are sitting MPs. Five of these MPs are dead and cannot defend themselves. 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. The Narcotics Bureau has said that they have no cases involving MPs or MLAs.
Amicus Curiae has said, “the matter is serious as nearly 30 per cent of cases against MPs/MLAs are pending over five years."
Among the States/UTs that 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).
Views are personal