Delhi High Court Clarifies Special Courts Can Adjudicate Offences Against Individuals No Longer MPs/MLAs

LI Network

Published on: January 9, 2024 at 09:55 IST

The Delhi High Court has emphasized that Special MP/MLA Courts retain jurisdiction to try offences against individuals, even if they are no longer Members of Parliament (MPs) or Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) at the time the alleged offence was committed.

Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma, while adjudicating BJP leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa’s plea, which sought the transfer or return of a complaint against him, dismissed the application.

Sirsa contested that the designated Special MP/MLA Court lacked jurisdiction based on his status as a former MLA during the alleged offence.

The crux of the matter revolved around the interpretation of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay case, questioning whether the Special MP/MLA Court had the authority to try cases involving individuals who were no longer MPs or MLAs at the time of the offence.

The Court rejected Sirsa’s plea, asserting that his former MLA status at the time of the alleged offence did not preclude the Special MP/MLA Court from trying his case. Justice Sharma noted that Sirsa’s legal representation failed to establish how a prompt trial would prejudice him.

The Court emphasized that Special Courts possess the authority to try cases involving both sitting and former MPs/MLAs, and there is no specific prohibition against trying individuals who have ceased to be MPs/MLAs when the offence was committed.

Justice Sharma affirmed the impugned order, aligning with the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s (ACMM) decision. The ACMM had stated that the Special MP/MLA Court could try cases involving both sitting and former legislators.

The court underscored its obligation not to exceed the Supreme Court’s mandate, clarifying that the Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay case referred to “former MPs/MLAs” without making any distinctions.

Consequently, the Delhi High Court asserted its lack of jurisdiction to interpret the Supreme Court’s decision in a manner inconsistent with its explicit directives.

The ruling establishes the authority of Special MP/MLA Courts to adjudicate offences, irrespective of the individual’s status as a sitting or former MP/MLA at the time of the alleged offence.


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