Amaravati: Former minister and Telugu Desam Party Politburo member Yanamala Ramakrishnudu on Thursday said democracy would be in great danger if the people's representatives involved in criminal cases were allowed to escape from timely court trials and punishments for years together.

Mr. Ramakrishnudu asserted that true democracy would flourish only when the criminals were restrained from exercising undue influence in politics. It was a welcome sign that there would be a speedier trial in the CBI and ED cases involving the people's representatives from now on. If trials into these cases were further delayed, it would pose a threat to the very existence of democratic values, he added.

In a statement here, the TDP leader said it was alarming that over 138 CBI and ED cases pertaining to Andhra Pradesh were pending in various stages for over a decade. Amicus Curiae Vijay Hansaria has provided to the Supreme Court these startling facts as reported by the Registrar General of AP High Court. If things continued like this, it would be difficult to pass on a healthy society to future generations, the TDP leader said.

Mr. Ramakrishnudu said the Amicus Curiae had reported an "inordinate delay" in the trials of some pending cases relating to Andhra Pradesh. These developments would be detrimental to democracy and the spirit of constitutional values. The keen interest being shown by the Supreme Court to restrain criminals in politics would truly strengthen the democratic fabric of the country, he said.

The TDP leader pointed out that the power of the people would go into the hands of the elected representatives through the process of elections in any democracy. He said that when such elected leaders resorted to gross misuse of power, severe injustice would be done to the people. Change will begin only when the general public is informed of these abuses of authority, he said, adding that only then would it be possible to prevent criminals and financial terrorists from entering the temples of democracy.

Mr. Ramakrishnudu urged for the setting up of a committee as suggested by the Amicus Curiae to supervise the trials in the CBI and ED cases. The Parliament should also pass laws to ban convicted criminals from standing in elections for a lifetime, he said. In the electoral process itself, all steps should be taken to restrain criminals. Strong laws should be passed in order to ensure a transparent and clean democracy, he added.

The former minister said it was unfortunate that charge sheets were not filed for decades in some cases involving the people's representatives while even small cases involving ordinary citizens were witnessing speedier trials and punishments. Very big cases involving very big offences by elected leaders were not seeing any progress, he said, adding this was nothing but making a mockery of democracy and a serious violation of the Constitution.

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