SC: A magistrate cannot extend time of filing charge sheet under UAPA

The Hon’ble Supreme Court, on 12th October 2020, in the matter of Bikramjit Singh v. The State of Punjab held that a magistrate does not have jurisdiction to extend time of filing charge sheet under the first proviso in Section 43-D(2)(b) of the UAPA (Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967)

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

So far as all offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 are concerned, the Magistrate’s jurisdiction to extend time under the first proviso in Section 43-D(2)(b) is non-existent, “the Court” being either a Sessions Court, in the absence of a notification specifying a Special Court, or the Special Court itself. (Para 21)

Once the maximum period for investigation of an offence is over, under the first proviso (a) to Section 167(2), the accused shall be released on bail, this being an indefeasible right granted by the CrPC. (Para 22)

So long as an application for grant of default bail is made on expiry of the period of 90 days (which application need not even be in writing) before a charge sheet is filed, the right to default bail becomes complete. It is of no moment that the Criminal Court in question either does not dispose of such application before the charge sheet is filed or disposes of such application wrongly before such charge sheet is filed. (Para 28)

The right to default bail is not mere statutory rights under the first proviso to Section 167(2) of the CrPC, but is part of the procedure established by law under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which is, therefore, a fundamental right granted to an accused person to be released on bail once the conditions of the first proviso to Section 167(2) are fulfilled. (Para 2)

Copy of judgement: Judgement_12-Oct-2020

-Adv. Tushar Kaushik

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