Special court under NIA to have exclusive jurisdiction over UAPA offenses only after the NIA has formally taken over the case: SC

THE the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the special court appointed under the National Investigation Law to rule on violations of the Illegal Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) would be solely competent to investigate a case only after ‘it was taken care of by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Deciding on a motion filed by Naser Bin Abu Bakr Yafai, accused of UAPA, a suspected sympathizer of the Islamic State (IS), a bench of three judges led by Judge DY Chandrachud said although in this case the central government had, during the investigation by the Mumbai Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) court, sought to turn the matter over to the NIA, the ATS was within its jurisdiction to investigate Yafai’s offense and to file a charge sheet against him in the magistrate’s court which has been designated by the state government as the remand court.

On July 14, 2016, an FIR was registered with the ATS against two individuals charged under the UAPA and the Indian Penal Code. On August 26, 2016, the state government, by notification, appointed the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Nanded, as the remand court and the Additional Sessions Judge’s court (ASJ) Nanded, as the special court. to judge cases filed by ATS, Nanded.

On September 8, 2016, the Union Home Minister invoked the NIA law and sought to transfer the case to the NIA. The ATS, however, continued the investigation and filed an indictment on October 7, 2016. The Nanded CJM became aware of the offense and on October 18, 2016 referred the case to the court of the ASJ from Nanded. It was not until two months later, on December 08, 2016, that ATS turned over the investigative documents to the NIA.

Read also: Magistrate not competent under UAPA to extend time to complete investigation: SC

It was against this background that Yafai argued that once the central government had entrusted the investigation to the NIA under section 6 (4) of the NIA Act, the ATS Nanded no longer had jurisdiction to continue the investigation of an offense under the NIA Act. . His second argument was that, since the offenses under the UAPA were offenses under the NIA Act, even though they were investigated by the state investigative agency, they would be tried exclusively by a special tribunal constituted under the NIA Act and the CJM, Nanded had no jurisdiction to return the defendants and return the case to trial before the ASJ, Nanded.

Refusing to grant redress to Yafai, the Supreme Court ruled that CJM, Nanded had validly referred the case to the ASJ, which at the time had been appointed as the special tribunal for cases filed by the ATS.

He felt that the ATS had a duty to continue the investigation until the NIA in Mumbai took over the investigation. The court relied on section 6 (7) of the NIA Act, which states that “until the [NIA] proceeds to the investigation of the case, it is up to the head of the police station to continue the investigation. The NIA did not resume the investigation until December 8, 2016.

Whereas until the NIA takes charge of an investigation, the jurisdiction rests with the court which normally has it, the court took note of the fact that the state government, by virtue of article 11 read with Article 185 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, had issued a notification on August 26, 2016, designating the CJM, Nanded as court of pre-trial detention and the ASJ, Nanded as special court for the trial of cases filed by the ATS Nanded.

“There is no dispute of the notification dated August 26, 2016. In this context, the CJM of Nanded was appointed as the court of pre-trial detention and the ASJ, Nanded as a special court reporting to the CrPC for the judgment cases filed by the ATS. Nandé. Therefore, they both had jurisdiction to hear this case under the UAPA until the NIA in Mumbai took over the investigation on December 8, 2016 and requested that the case be transferred to the court. special of the NIA in Mumbai established under section 11 of the NIA Act. “, Ruled the Supreme Court.

“Both took place before December 8, 2016, when the investigation was assigned to the NIA in Mumbai. Certainly, once the NIA Mumbai initiates the investigation, the Special Court appointed under section 11 of the NIA Act would have sole jurisdiction to adjudicate the case. In the present case, the Mumbai NIA did not initiate the investigation until December 8, 2016 after receiving the files from ATS Nanded, and subsequently filed a request to transfer the case from ASJ, Nanded at the NIA Special Court, Mumbai incorporated under Article 11 of the NIA Law, ”the Supreme Court noted.

He distinguished his decision in Bikramjit Singh v. Punjab State last year, and concluded that “the principle set forth … in Bikramjit Singh … Would not apply to the present case since there was no special court in the state of Maharashtra designated under section 22 of the NIA Act (since the investigation was being carried out by ATS Nanded, who had jurisdiction over the case).

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Thelma J. Longworth