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General Assam Rifles Court Can Try Offences Under Prevention Of Corruption Act Against Members Of Assam Rifles: SC [Read Judgment]

Ashok Kini
5 July 2019 12:45 PM GMT
General Assam Rifles Court Can Try Offences Under Prevention Of Corruption Act Against Members Of Assam Rifles: SC [Read Judgment]
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'Jurisdiction exercisable by the GARC under Section 55 of the 2006 Act can be treated as an exception to the provisions of the PC Act'.'

The Supreme Court has held that General Assam Rifles Court (GARC) has the jurisdiction to try offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act against the members of the Assam Rifles.The bench comprising Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice MR Shah set aside Gauhati High Court order which held otherwise. The High Court was of the view that an offence punishable under the Prevention of...

The Supreme Court has held that General Assam Rifles Court (GARC) has the jurisdiction to try offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act against the members of the Assam Rifles.

The bench comprising Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice MR Shah set aside Gauhati High Court order which held otherwise. The High Court was of the view that an offence punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act is triable only by a special Judge in view of Section 4 of the PC Act.

A Court of Inquiry was held after Matrabhumi News and 'Tehelka.com' on 24/25th September, 2014 aired a sting operation video alleging corruption in the Assam Rifles. The charge-sheet was issued by the Convening Authority to the Naib Subedar and Subedar under Section 55 of the Assam Rifles Act, 2006 and for an offence punishable under Section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 with an alternate charge under Section 49 of the 2006 Act. GARC rejected the objection as to maintainability of a case punishable under PC Act. This order was set aside by the High Court.

The issue considered by the Apex Court was whether the Assam Rifles Act, 2006, being a later Act, impliedly repeals the provisions of the PC Act and whether both the statutes can be harmoniously construed.

The court said that statutes in pari materia although in apparent conflict, should also, so far as reasonably possible, be construed to be in harmony with each other and it is only when there is an irreconcilable conflict between the new provision and the prior statute relating to the same subject-matter, that the former, being the later expression of the legislature, may be held to prevail, the prior law yielding to the extent of the conflict.

Applying Sutherland's Statutory Construction, the bench observed that there is no real conflict between the provisions of the two Statutes and they can run in parallel lines. It said:

"Section 4 of the PC Act is not irreconcilable with Section 55 of the 2006 Act, which is a later local statute, to such an extent that the two cannot stand together. Therefore, the jurisdiction exercisable by the GARC under Section 55 of the 2006 Act can be treated as an exception to the provisions of the PC Act. "

Sutherland's Statutory Construction

The bench quoted the following passage from Sutherland's Statutory Construction on this aspect:

"A general statute applies to all persons and localities within its jurisdictional scope, prescribing the governing law upon the subject it encompasses, unless a special statute exists to treat a refinement of the subject with particularity or to prescribe a different law for a particular locality. Likewise, where a later statute adapted for a particular locality conflicts with a general law of State-wide application, the special or local law will supersede the general enactment. Where, however, the later special or local statute is not irreconcilable with the general statute to the degree that both statutes cannot have a coterminous operation, the general statute will not be repealed, but the special or local statute will exist as an exception to its terms."

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