Report No. 244
(ii) Delays in trials
The problem of delays in the judicial system in India has been extensively studied and discussed from a number of perspectives. While in the case of criminal trials the chief concern is mainly for under-trial prisoners, delays in trials of politically influential persons like MPs and MLAs pose a different set of challenges. In such cases, with delay, there is an ever-increasing chance that the accused will be in a position to compromise the trial process, distort evidence, and delay proceedings further. Delays are also caused by prolonged absence from court proceedings by influential persons, where the police do not enforce their presence.44
44. Law Commission of India, Expeditious Investigation and Trial of Criminal Cases Against Influential Public Personalities, Report No. 239 (2012)
<http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/reports/report239.pdf> accessed February 2nd, 2014.
The issue of delays in trials of influential public personalities have been recognized and tackled by the Law Commission in its 239th report submitted to the Supreme Court in the case of Virender Kumar Ohri v. Union of India, Writ Petition (Civil) No. 341 of 2004. The Supreme Court has also remarked on this issue in Ganesh Narayan v. Bangarappa, (1995) 4 SCC 41, saying "the slow motion becomes much slower motion when politically powerful or high and influential persons figure as accused". Due to such tactics, delays are thought to be directly related to low rates of convictions in the country.
Ample evidence of this may be gathered from a perusal of affidavits submitted by candidates during election.- a sample of twenty affidavits from the 2009 Lok Sabha elections where criminal charges were pending revealed that over half of these had charges pending for more than six years, some pending for over two decades.47
47. Law Commission of India, Links to Candidate Affidavits,
<http://eci.nic.in/eci_main1/LinktoAffidavits.aspx> accessed February 19th, 2014.
As a result, the safeguard provided in the RPA against convicted criminals acting as representatives does not operate effectively, due to the low numbers of convictions and the high levels of delay.