Supreme Court Affirms Sessions Court’s Jurisdiction in Absence of Special Court Designation

In a recent verdict, the Supreme Court clarified the jurisdictional dynamics concerning cases under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA), when no special court has been designated by the state government.

The court, composed of Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta, emphasized that until a Special Court is constituted by the State Government under Section 22(1) of the NIA Act, offenses punishable under UAPA fall within the purview of the Court of Sessions. This, as elucidated by the bench, grants the Sessions Court the authority to follow the procedural norms outlined in Chapter IV of the NIA Act.

The ruling, penned by Justice Sandeep Mehta, upheld the validity of UAPA proceedings initiated by Sessions Courts when no special court had been designated by the state government. It addressed a specific case where UAPA proceedings initiated by the session judge based on a preliminary investigation report had been challenged before the High Court, which subsequently quashed the proceedings.

The Supreme Court’s decision overturned the High Court’s ruling, affirming the jurisdiction of the Sessions Court as provided under Section 22 of the NIA Act. Notably, it highlighted that the State of West Bengal, in the specific case, had not exercised its power under Section 22 of the NIA Act to establish a Special Court for UAPA offenses.

Additionally, the Court clarified the remand procedure for accused individuals in UAPA cases, stipulating that the jurisdictional magistrate could authorize remand for a period of 90 days. Any extension beyond this period would require an explicit order from the Sessions Court or the Special Court, as per Section 43D(2) of the UAPA.

In conclusion, the Supreme Court’s ruling reaffirmed the authority of Sessions Courts in the absence of a designated special court for UAPA cases by the state government, providing clarity on jurisdictional matters and procedural protocols.

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