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Supreme Court Directs WB Govt To Designate More Special Courts To Try Offences Specified In NIA Act's Schedule

Sparsh Upadhyay
2 Dec 2021 4:37 PM GMT
Supreme Court Directs WB Govt To Designate More Special Courts To Try Offences Specified In NIA Acts Schedule
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While granting bail to an undertrial accused booked under various sections of UAPA, the Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the State of West Bengal to designate more dedicated courts of Sessions as Special Courts for the trial of offences specified in the schedule appended to the NIA Act 2008.The bench comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and Abhay S. Oka issued this direction as it noted that...

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While granting bail to an undertrial accused booked under various sections of UAPA, the Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the State of West Bengal to designate more dedicated courts of Sessions as Special Courts for the trial of offences specified in the schedule appended to the NIA Act 2008.

The bench comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and Abhay S. Oka issued this direction as it noted that the 74-year-old appellant before the Court had completed nine and half years of incarceration as an undertrial prisoner and still, the trial isn't likely to get completed in near future.

Significantly, while dealing with his bail plea, the Supreme Court also observed that period of deprivation of personal liberty pending trial/appeal cannot be unduly long.

"Once it is obvious that a timely trial would not be possible and the accused has suffered incarceration for a significant period of time, the Courts would ordinarily be obligated to enlarge him on bail," the bench further observed.

Read more about the case here: UAPA- Period Of Deprivation Of Personal Liberty Pending Trial Cannot Be Unduly Long: Supreme Court Grants Bail To Accused

Importantly, the Court was also informed by the counsel for the appellant that only one such Special Court has been designated by the State of West Bengal to try such cases under the Act 2008 (UAPA being a scheduled Act under the NIA Act, 2008)

"If this procedure is being followed in conducting the trial under Act 2008, it frustrates the very purpose with which the special Courts are designated," the Court observed perusing the order sheets related to this case, the Court noted that the hearing is taking place only one day in a month.

In the given circumstances, the Court considered it appropriate to direct that the State of West Bengal to take up the issue and designate more dedicated courts of Sessions as Special Courts for the trial of offences specified in the schedule appended to the Act 2008.

It may be noted that the Schedule attached to the NIA Act, 2008 contains the following Act/offences:

1. The Atomic Energy Act, 1962 (33 of 1962);

2. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (37 of 1967);

3. The Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982 (65 of 1982);

4. The Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Civil Aviation Act, 1982 (66 of 1982);

5. The SAARC Convention (Suppression of Terrorism) Act, 1993 (36 of 1993);

6. The Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act, 2002 (69 of 2002);

7. The Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery Systems (Prohibition of Unlawful Activities) Act, 2005 (21 of 2005);

8. Offences under—

(a) Chapter VI of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) [sections 121 to 130 (both inclusive)];

(b) Sections 489-A to 489-E (both inclusive) of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860).

At the same time, the Court also noted that the Central Government may also, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the High Court, Calcutta exercise its power and take up the issue at the earliest so that such trials which are pending under the Act 2008 may go ahead speedily and the mandate, as intended by the legislature in its wisdom, reflected from Section 19 of the Act, is being complied with in its letter and spirit.

Case name: Ashim @ Asim Kumar Haranath Bhattacharya @ Asim Harinath Bhattacharya @ Aseem Kumar Bhattacharya vs National Investigation Agency
Citation: LL 2021 SC 697
Case no. and Date: CrA 1525 OF 2021 | 1 December 2021
Coram: Justices Ajay Rastogi and Abhay S. Oka

Click here to Read/Download Judgment

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