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Magistrate not competent authority to extend time to complete investigation in UAPA cases: SC

 A magistrate would not be the competent authority for extension of time to complete investigation in cases under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, the Supreme Court has said.

A bench headed by Justice U U Lalit said the only competent authority to consider such request would be the Special Courts set up under National Investigation Agency Act.

“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 nonexistent.

“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 bench also comprising Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi said.

The order, passed on September 7, came on an appeal filed by Sadique and others challenging the judgment passed by the High Court of Madhya Pradesh.

They were arrested in connection with crime lodged with STF/ATS Police Station, District Bhopal for offences punishable under Arms Act and various provisions of UAPA.

While dealing with an application moved on behalf of the Investigating Machinery under Section 43-D(2)(b) of the UAPA, the extension was granted by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bhopal.

On completion of 90 days of their actual custody, applications on behalf of appellants were moved seeking bail on the ground that no charge-sheet was filed by the Investigating Agency within 90 days, which was rejected by Court of CJM, Bhopal.

When the matter reached the high court, it said 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 the accused were not entitled to bail.

The lawyer appearing for the accused referred to previous decisions of the apex court and said the extension granted in the instant case by CJM, Bhopal was beyond jurisdiction.

He referred to the decision which said “all offences under the UAPA, whether investigated by the National Investigation Agency or by the investigating agencies of the state government, are to be tried exclusively by Special Courts set up under National Investigation Agency Act.

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