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SC says Magistrate can't extend completion of probe deadline in UAPA cases

ANI | Updated: Sep 10, 2021 13:42 IST

New Delhi [India], September 10 (ANI): The Supreme Court has held that a Magistrate does not have the jurisdiction to extend the deadline for completion of investigation in cases under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
A Bench headed by Justice UU Lalit said that such power of extension of time to complete investigation would be with a special court set up under the National Investigation Agency Act and in the absence of such special courts, with the sessions court.
The apex court in its order stated, "After considering various provisions of the relevant statutes, it was concluded that "so far as all offences under
the UAPA are concerned, the Magistrate's jurisdiction to extend time under the first proviso in Section 43-D (2)(b) is non-existent".
Consequently, in so far as "Extension of time to complete investigation" is concerned, the Magistrate would not be competent to consider the request and the only competent authority to consider such request would be "the Court" as specified in the proviso in Section 43-D (2)(b) of the UAPA."

The top court order came on a plea filed by four persons accused under UAPA. They had challenged an order passed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court on September 11, 2017, which had confirmed a March 2014 order passed by Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Bhopal granting investigating agency extension of time under Section 43D (2)(b) to complete the probe.
The accused had filed in the trial court applications seeking bail on the ground that no charge-sheet was filed by the investigating agency within 90 days. Their applications were rejected by the CJM, Bhopal and thereafter Sessions Court, Bhopal had also rejected their revision petition.
The High Court had upheld these orders observing that since the CJM, Bhopal had passed an appropriate order, the period available for the investigating machinery to complete the investigation stood extended to 180 days and as such the applications preferred by the accused were not maintainable and that they were not entitled to relief.
As the accused didn't get any relief from High Court as well, they approached the top court, saying the extension granted in the case by CJM, Bhopal to complete the investigation was beyond jurisdiction.
The apex court allowed their appeal and said they are entitled to be released on default bail and ordered their release. (ANI)