122 lawmakers probed by ED for money laundering, 121 others investigated by CBI, SC informed

The number includes 51 sitting and former Members of Parliament

Over 120 lawmakers including 51 sitting and former Members of Parliament (MP) are accused of money laundering and are being probed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) while 121 others have been booked by the CBI for various criminal offences, the Supreme Court was informed on Tuesday.

Out of the cases lodged under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against MPs, 28 cases are pending investigation while 10 are at the stage of framing of charges in trial courts.

A bench of Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant is scheduled to hear a PIL filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay on Wednesday.

In a report filed by senior advocate Vijay Hansaria, appointed amicus curiae in the matter seeking speedy disposal of cases against lawmakers, said that 48 cases lodged by the ED against Members of Legislative Assembly and Legislative Councils are pending investigation and 15 cases are at the stage of framing of charges.

According to the report, filed through advocate Sneha Kalita, the total numbers of cases against MPs/MLAs pending investigation by the CBI are 37, which involves 17 sitting and former members of Parliament and 17 sitting and ex-MLAs. The report said that five MPs and nine MLAs against whom cases were lodged have expired.

With regard to cases investigated by ED and CBI, Mr. Hansaria submitted that the Courts before whom the trials are pending may be directed to expedite the trial of the all pending cases on a day to day basis.

“All the High Courts may be directed to issue administrative instructions to the effect that the concerned Courts dealing with cases investigated by CBI and Enforcement Directorate shall deal with the cases pending before MPs/MLAs on priority basis and other cases shall be dealt only after the trials in these cases are over,” Mr. Hansaria submitted.

“In case the accused do not cooperate with the trial, the court may consider cancellation of their bail,” he said, adding that, “the high courts may be requested to hear the cases where interim orders have been passed within a time frame and the trial courts may be directed to proceed with the trial, notwithstanding the interim order of the High Court.”

He suggested, to the top court, that in cases where investigations are pending before the ED and the CBI, a Monitoring Committee may be constituted comprising —Former Judge of the apex court or the former Chief Justice of a high court, Director, ED (or his nominee), Director, CBI (or his nominee), Home Secretary to the Government of India (or his nominee) and a judicial officer not below the rank of District Judge to be nominated by this Court.

“The said Monitoring Committee will evaluate the reasons for the delay in investigation and would be competent to issue appropriate directions to the concerned Investigating Officer to ensure early completion of the investigation,” he said in his report, adding that the Committee may be constituted within a period of two weeks of the order.

He said that said Committee shall furnish its status report regarding each particular case in a sealed cover to this Court within two months of its first sitting.

Mr. Hansaria in his report also dealt with status reports filed by different high courts about pendency of cases against MPs/MLAs in their jurisdiction.

The amicus said the Uttar Pradesh government has informed him that a total of 510 cases, relating to Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013 were registered in five districts of Meerut Zone against 6,869 accused.

“Out of these 510 cases, in 175 cases the charge sheet was filed, in 165 cases final reports were submitted, 170 cases were expunged. Thereafter 77 cases were withdrawn by the state government under section 321 of CrPC. The Government Orders do not give any reasons for withdrawal of the case under section 321 of CrPC. It merely states that the administration after full consideration has taken a decision to withdraw the particular case,” Mr. Hansaria submitted.

“The 77 cases relating to Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013 withdrawn under section 321 of CrPC may be examined by the High Court by exercising revisional jurisdiction under section 401 of CrPC in the light of the law laid down by this Court..,” he added.

Similarly, the amicus curiae pointed out that the Karnataka government has withdrawn 62 cases without assigning any reason, Tamil Nadu has withdrawn four cases, Telangana has withdrawn 14 cases and Kerala has withdrawn 36 cases.

On August 10, in a significant order affecting politicians facing criminal cases, the top court had curtailed the power of state prosecutors and ordered that they cannot withdraw prosecution against the lawmakers under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) without prior sanction from high courts.

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