India court sets deadline for politicians' cases

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NEW DELHI (AP) — India's top court has told judges they must reach verdicts within one year in cases of lawmakers accused of grave crimes, in an attempt to reduce the number who win re-election while on trial.

Lawmakers can run in elections while being tried, but cannot hold public office once they are convicted of offenses such as corruption, rape or murder. India's notoriously slow legal system has allowed many politicians accused of serious graft to be re-elected.

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that lower courts should expedite trials so politicians are quickly acquitted or disqualified. It said judges would have to explain any delays.

Nationwide elections begin early next month. India's Congress party-led government faces anger over a slew of corruption scandals that auditors say lost the country billions of dollars.

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