The Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka in the suo motu public interest litigation (WP 10240/2020) is monitoring the progress of trials before the Special Court dealing with criminal prosecutions against Members of Parliament, Members of the State Legislative Assembly, and Members of the Legislative Council.
With a view to analyse the progress of such cases, DAKSH has identified eight criminal cases that were filed against Members of Parliament, and 131 criminal cases that were filed against Members of the Karnataka State Legislative Assembly.
The detailed findings of our analysis has been provided below. In summary, it was found that the pending cases have been pending for an average of 5.4 years, while the disposed cases took 3.2 years to be disposed. The progress of cases varies widely depending on the court and district that the cases are/were in. Cases that are pending before, or were disposed by, the Special Court (Court Hall 82 of the Bengaluru City Civil and Sessions Court) took lesser time to progress through court, when compared to the time taken by the cases to progress in other courts. Further, cases against the sitting MLAs and MPs take longer to progress in court when compared to cases of similar case types in the Bengaluru City Civil and Sessions Court.
Based on the affidavits filed before the Election Commission by the Members of Parliament and Members of the State Legislative Assembly, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has made publicly available information of the then-pending criminal cases against such persons. Using the information collated by ADR, DAKSH was able to identify and obtain data pertaining to 139 cases in the subordinate courts against 59 sitting MLAs and MPs from eCourts (the list of cases has been provided in the Annexure). Data from these cases have been analysed to submit the below findings.
We analysed 139 criminal cases, of which, 34 cases are pending, 51 cases have been disposed, and 54 cases were transferred from one court to another (for which we analysed case progress in the first court up to the date of transfer).
The cases analysed are before courts in the following districts:
|District||Number of cases analysed|
Analysis of progress of cases:
These cases have been pending for an average of 1,946 days (5.4 years). These cases have had on average 43 hearings and the average number of days between these hearings is 20 days. However, notably, there are also three pending cases filed in 2014 that have gone through over 300 hearings.
The average pendency of cases varies in each district with the four cases from Belagavi pending the longest, for an average of 2,845 days (7.8 years). The four pending cases in Belagavi have gone through 65 hearings with an average of 40 days between each hearing. Further, Bengaluru which has the highest numbers of cases (22 pending cases), has an average pendency of 1,759 days (4.8 years). The average number of hearings the cases in Bengaluru have already gone through is 34 hearings, and the average number of days between two consecutive hearings for cases in Bengaluru district is 19 days.
If we compare cases against MPs and MLAs that are before the Special Court, i.e. Court Hall 82 in Bengaluru’s City Civil and Sessions Court (19 cases), to cases before other courts (15 cases), we found that cases before Court Hall 82 have been pending for an average of 1,769 days (4.8 years), as opposed to cases before the other courts that have been pending for an average 2,170 days (6 years). The 19 cases before the Special Court have had an average of 40 hearings with the average number of days between these hearings being 17 days, while the 15 cases before other courts have had an average of 47 hearings with the average number of days between these hearings being 23 days.
Most cases (19 out of 34) are pending at the stage of notice/warrant/summons. Further, nine cases are pending at the stage of evidence.
The average number of days disposed cases took to be disposed was 1,166 days (3.2 years). The average number of hearings taken to dispose the cases is 25 hearings, with the average number of days between each hearing being 31 days. The amount of time taken to dispose cases is most often lower than the average amount of time for which cases are pending in court.
The average time taken for disposal of cases varies in each district, with the 15 disposed cases from Bengaluru district taking an average of 835 days (2.3 years) to be disposed. The four disposed cases from Ballari district took the longest time for disposal at 2,819 days (7.7 years). The average number of hearings such cases went through in Ballari district is 58 hearings, with the average number of days between two consecutive hearings being 30 days.
If we compare cases against MPs and MLAs that are before the Special Court, i.e. Court Hall 82 in Bengaluru’s City Civil and Sessions Court (11 cases) to cases before other courts (40 cases), we found that cases before Court Hall 82 took an average of 890 days (2.4 years) to be disposed, as opposed to cases before the other courts which took an average of 1,244 days (3.4 years) to be disposed. The 11 disposed cases before the Special Court had an average of 28 hearings with the average number of days between those hearings being 20 days, while the 40 cases before the other courts had an average of 24 hearings per case with the average number of days between those hearings being 35 days.
In order to understand where the delay in progress takes place, we analysed the stage at which cases were getting stuck at the longest in the lifecycle of the disposed cases. It was found that disposed cases were stuck at the stages of framing of charges and evidence the longest. The average number of days spent at the stage of framing of charges was 443 days, over ten hearings. The average number of days spent at the stage of evidence is 369 days, over 15 hearings.
The nature of disposal and the time taken to dispose the cases are provided below:
|Nature of disposal||Time taken for disposal in days||Count of cases|
|Contested-ALLOWED/GRANTED AFTER FULL HEARING||38||1|
|Contested-CONVICTED AND SENTENCED||2098||1|
|Uncontested-COMMITTED TO SESSION COURT||2776||1|
|Uncontested-COMMITTED TO SESSIONS COURT||168||1|
|Uncontested-Settled in LOK ADALATH||414||1|
In addition to the cases analysed above that are either pending or have been disposed, we were also able to identify 54 cases that were transferred from one court to another for which we analysed case progress in the first court up to the date of transfer. It was found that the average amount of time such cases spent in the court prior to their transfer was 1,299 days (3.6 years) and had gone through 25 hearings on average.
Comparison of case progress
In order to understand and put in perspective the time taken for criminal cases in the Special Court to be disposed when compared to other criminal cases, we have analysed the progress of cases before the Special Court—Court Hall No. 82 (‘CH 82’)—and compared it to the progress of cases before 80 other City Civil and Sessions Court Halls (‘Other CHs’) in Bengaluru. To enable comparison, we have only analysed cases belong to the case types CC, CRLMISC, CRLRP, PCR, and SPLC at CH 82 and the Other CHs.
131 criminal cases at CH 82 have been pending for an average of 320 days, while 5,107 criminal cases at Other CHs have been pending for an average of 603 days. On the exclusion of cases belonging to the CRLMISC case type that includes bail matters which may remain pending for a shorter amount of time, it was found that cases before CH 82 remain pending for an average of 393 days (based on an analysis of 128 pending cases), while cases before Other CHs remain pending for 649 days (based on an analysis of 3,835 pending cases).
Regarding the time taken to dispose cases, it was found that cases before CH 82 took an average of 157 days to be disposed (based on an analysis of 147 disposed cases), while cases before Other CHs took 64 days to be disposed (based on an analysis of 1,26,482 disposed cases). However, on exclusion of cases belonging to the CRLMISC case type that includes bail matters, it was found that cases before CH 82 took an average of 185 days to be disposed (based on an analysis of 129 disposed cases), while cases before Other CHs took 730 days (based on an analysis of 16,294 cases).
|CNR number||Combined case number||District|
The authors would like to thank Sanghamithra K for her research assistance.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the authors’ and they do not represent the views of DAKSH.