Today: Jun 18, 2024

Special Court, or in its absence, Sessions Court alone can decide a bail plea under ULAP Act: HC

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Srinagar: Only the Special Court or a Sessions Court, in its absence, can decide a bail plea in an offence under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, (ULAP) Act, the J&K High Court ruled today.

Justice Sanjay Dhar of the court made the ruling on a plea filed by the J&K government against an 8th of August 2018 order by the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bandipora. The magistrate in the order had granted bail to one Hilal Ahmad Parray, accused for offences under Sections 13, 18 and 19 of ULAP Act registered with Police Station, Hajin.

The State contended that the Magistrate did not have jurisdiction to pass the bail order. It said only a Special Court designated under National Investigation Agency Act (NIA), 2008 has jurisdiction to grant or refuse bail in a scheduled offence.

The accused however contended that at the relevant time no Special Courts were designated in terms of the provisions of NIA Act and that offences under ULAP Act were triable by ordinary Sessions Courts. As such, the Chief Judicial Magistrate was having jurisdiction to entertain and decide the bail application even in cases relating to offences under ULAP Act.

Referring to various provisions in the NIA Act, Justice Dhar said that Judicial Magistrate cannot grant or refuse bail in an offence under ULAP Act.

“It is only the Special Court or in the absence of a Special Court, a Sessions Court exercising powers of a Special Court, which can entertain and grant/refuse bail to a person accused of an offence under the provisions of ULAP Act, which finds mention in the Schedule to NIA Act,” the bench said.

It added, “Bail in a particular offence can be granted/refused only by a court which has jurisdiction to take cognizance or try such offence.”

A Judicial Magistrate has neither the jurisdiction to take cognizance of offences under ULAP Act nor he is vested with jurisdiction to try such offences, the court said.

“It is only a Special Court or in its absence a Sessions Court exercising powers of Special Court which is vested with such power. Thus, a Judicial Magistrate cannot grant or refuse bail in an offence under ULAP Act,” the court further said.