The Hon’ble Supreme Court clarified that the direction issued by it for the creation of a special court to hear criminal cases against sitting and former MPs/MLAs cannot be construed to mean that cases triable by Magistrates as per the Indian Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure are to be transferred to the Sessions Court
By: Likivi K Jakhalu, Campus Law Centre, Delhi University
By a Notification dated 16 August 2019, the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad constituted Special District and Sessions Courts for sixty-two out of the seventy-four districts in Uttar Pradesh.
The Chief Justice of India, NV Ramana, and Justice DY Chandrachud, and Justice Surya Kant clarified that the directions do not require High Courts to transfer cases to Sessions Courts, where they can be decided by Magistrates.
Thus, the directions contained in the Order of 4 December 2018 do not affect the jurisdictional provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and other special enactments applicable to criminal trials conducted per those enactments.
In accordance with directions from this Court, criminal cases involving former and current legislators are to be assigned to Sessions Courts or Magisterial Courts. It has to be per the governing provisions of the law as applicable.
Consequently, where a case is triable by a Magistrate under the Penal Code, the case would have to be assigned/allocated to a Court of a Magistrate vested with jurisdiction, and the Order of this Court dated 4 December 2018 cannot be construed as a direction requiring the trial of the case by a Sessions Court.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court noted that no Magisterial Courts in, the State of Uttar Pradesh, have been designated as Special Courts for the trial of cases triable by magistrates in accordance with directions dated 4 December 2018.
The High Court of Judicature at Allahabad issued a Notification on 16 August 2019 based on an apparent misinterpretation of the directions contained in its Order. In light of this, the Hon’ble Supreme Court ordered the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad to ensure that criminal cases involving former and sitting legislators are allocated to as many Sessions Courts and Magisterial Courts as required.
In this way, cases that are triable by a Magistrate are assigned to a designated Court of a Magistrate while those triable by a Sessions Court are assigned to a designated Court of Sessions. The Hon’ble Supreme Court further directed that those cases triable by Magistrates which are pending before the Sessions Court because of the Circular dated 16 August 2019 shall stand transferred to the Court of competent jurisdiction.
As a result, the entire record and proceedings shall be transferred to the designated Magistrate, and the proceedings shall begin from the stage where the proceedings were before the transfer, thereby avoiding the necessity to start anew.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court thus held that the directions that shall govern the generality of cases facing former or sitting legislators in the state of Uttar Pradesh whose cases, are to be tried in terms of the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 or a specific enactment governing the trial of the charge against them are to be tried by Special Courts, the Sessions Courts or, as the case may be, Magistrates’ Courts.
Consequently, the High Court was directed to issue a fresh circular in conformity with the present order.