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Not Possible To Fix Outer Limit For Disposing UAPA Cases; But Judges Should Endeavor For Day To Day Trial : Karnataka High Court

Mustafa Plumber
24 March 2021 12:40 PM GMT
Not Possible To Fix Outer Limit For Disposing UAPA Cases; But Judges Should Endeavor For Day To Day Trial : Karnataka High Court
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The Karnataka High Court has observed that it was not possible to lay down an outer time limit for the completion of trial of cases under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act(UAPA). However, the Court added that judicial officers should endeavour for early disposal of cases, following day-to-day trial as per the mandate of Section 19 of the NIA Act and Section 309 of the Code of...

The Karnataka High Court has observed that it was not possible to lay down an outer time limit for the completion of trial of cases under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act(UAPA).

However, the Court added that judicial officers should endeavour for early disposal of cases, following day-to-day trial as per the mandate of Section 19 of the NIA Act and Section 309 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The Court also directed the Registrar General of the court to take steps to transfer pending cases in Bengaluru Urban District registered under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, to the Special court of 49 City Civil and Session judge (CCH 50), for hearing and disposal.

A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Suraj Govindaraj, while disposing off a petition filed by one Vaseemuddin A, said :

"First respondent shall ensure that appropriate steps are taken in accordance with law for transferring the case involving offence under UAPA Act to the Court of 49 City civil and session judge (CCH 50) it is made clear while effecting transfer all procedural and legal compliance shall be made."

The petitioner had submitted that the cases involving UAPA Act are not being disposed off expeditiously. It was contended by Advocate Mohammed Tahir, appearing for the petitioner, that due to delay in disposal of cases, the Fundamental Right of the accused guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India is being violated.

Drawing attention of the court to section 309 of CrPC and section 19 of the NIA Act, it was prayed for a direction to the trial court to dispose of all the cases under UAPA Act, within six months. Further, it was prayed to conduct the trials on a day to day basis.

The bench in its order noted that "On the basis of the order of the court, a report has been submitted by Registrar General on March 22 stating that now a judicial officer has been appointed to preside over special court, (CCH 50)."

It added "Therefore it will be appropriate to take a decision on the administrative side to transfer cases 33 which are involving UAPA Act (pending before different courts) to 49 Additional City Civil and Session Judge (CCH-50). However, all the formalities will have to be completed before transfer of the cases. After the transfer the learned judge presiding over CCH 50 will have a pendency of 56 cases under UAPA act."

Coming to the prayer made in the petition for conducting the trial on day to day basis, the bench said "There cannot be any dispute that all criminal cases where accused are in judicial custody must be disposed off expeditiously considering the right guaranteed to the accused by Article 21 of Constitution of India.

Further it noted "There cannot be any dispute that mandate of 309 CrPC and section 19 of NIA Act wherever applicable has to be followed. We are sure that all judicial officers who are dealing with these cases are conscious of the fact that utmost priority will have to be given for disposal of cases under the UAPA Act, for the following reasons:

1: Statutory provision of sec 309 CrPC.

2: Seriousness of offences under UAPA act

3: For protecting rights of accused under Article 21 of the Constitution of India".

The court also opined that "Provision of section 309 of CrPc or Section 19 of NIA act are ideal provisions. However, today we do not live in an ideal world."

The bench also said that "Due to the pandemic of Covid-19 some of the members of the bar are not in position to regularly attend the court. Even police machinery is under pressure. To avoid the spread of covid-19 exactly one year back, Honourable Prime Minister of India announced the decision of lockdown from March 25. As a result of limited functioning of court for the first few months from March 25, 2020 the pendency in all courts has substantially increased."

The court also noted that in the city of Bengaluru adequate public prosecutors are not available. In fact a suo-motu petition is initiated by the court where directions have been given to the state government to fill in the vacant post of public prosecutors.

Accordingly it held "Therefore, it is not possible for us to issue writ of mandamus laying down outer limit for completing of cases registered under the offences of UAPA Act 1967. However, concerned judicial officers are bound to make every endeavor to give utmost priority for disposal of cases under UAPA Act for reasons we have recorded earlier."

It also refused to issue a direction to court to follow directions given in the Apex court of Shaheen Welfare Association vs Union Of India & Ors decided on 27 February, 1996. The court said "It is not necessary for us to issue a mandamus to that effect, as all courts are bound by the binding precedents of the Apex court including the directions of the court issued in Shaheen welfare association."

The court directed the registry to circulate the order with the judicial officers posted at the city civil and sessions court in the state


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