This judgement analyses the Magistrate’s jurisdiction to extend the time of investigation. It scrutinises the first proviso in Section 43-D (2) (b) in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967.
DATE OF JUDGEMENT:
- Hon’ble Justice Uday Umesh Lalit
- Hon’ble Justice S. Ravindra Bhat
- Hon’ble Justice Belam M Trivedi
- Appellant: Sadique and Ors
- Respondent: State of Madhya Pradesh
This judgement analyses the Magistrate’s jurisdiction to extend the time of investigation. It scrutinises the first proviso in Section 43-D (2) (b) in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967. Holding that the Magistrates would not be competent to extend the time to complete investigations in UAPA cases,the Supreme Court granted default bail to the accused.
The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bhopal, had granted extension to the investigating machinery under Section 43-D of the UAPA. Since the investigating agency had not filed a charge-sheet within 90 days, the bail plea was made by the accused. It was dismissed by the court affirming the order of the Chief Judicial Magistrate of extending the period of investigation to 180 days.
- Section 167(2) of Criminal Procedure Code: The first proviso of Section 167 (2) of the Code states that an accused person shall be released on the condition that he or she furnishes bail within 90 days from the date of the arrest.
- Section 43 D (2) of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act: In this Section of the Code, a court can extend the period of detention of an accused by 180 days if it is satisfied with the progress of investigation and the specific reasons for detention.
- “Court” under UAPA: Before the NIA Act was enacted; there were two kinds of offences under the UAPA – those with a maximum sentence of over 7 years triable by the Sessions Court, and offences with a maximum sentence of under 7 years triable by the Magistrate's Court. The NIA Act completely scrapped this scheme. Instead, all scheduled offences under the UAPA are now being tried by special courts set up under that Act.
- Whether a Chief Judicial Magistrate is competent to grant extension of time for investigation under Section 43D(2)(b) of the UAPA Act?
- The court observed that all offences under the UAPA which are investigated or prosecuted by the agencies of the State Government or the Central Government are to be tried by Special Courts.
- The case of Bikram Jit was referred. The Supreme Court, in this case, observed that all offences under the UAPA would be tried by Special Courts, which are exclusively set up to deal with the matter under the NIA Act. These courts can extend the time to 180 days for certain offences. The court also held that if an application for grant of bail is made within 90 days of the date of the arrest, before the chargesheet is filed, the request will be complete.
- Section 167 makes it clear that when a person is arrested and detained for an offence punishable with death, life imprisonment or imprisonment of not less than 10 years, the time for investigation may not be longer than 15 days, but is extendable to a maximum period of 90 days.
- It has been concluded that the Magistrate's authority to extend time under Section 43-D-2 of the UAPA is non-existent. This means that the only competent authority that would be able to consider such a request would be "the Court" specifically mentioned in the proviso in Section 43 D (2)(b) of the UAPA.
In matters of personal liberty, the court should not be too technical. Whether the accused makes a written application for “default bail” or an oral application for “default bail” is of no consequence. The court concerned must deal with such an application by considering the statutory requirements, namely, whether the statutory period for filing a charge-sheet or challan has expired, whether the charge-sheet or challan has been filed and whether the accused is prepared to and does furnish bail.
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Hope you enjoyed reading this. You may now be able to answer the following questions, let us know in the comments section-
- All offences under UAPA are tried by which courts?
- Till what period can the accused exercise his right to default bail?