Can’t fix an outer limit for Disposing UAPA cases

In a recent case, the Karnataka High Court observed that it was impossible to lay down an outer limit to complete trial cases under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

However, the Court clarified that judicial officers should try and dispose of cases early, by the following day to day trial as per Section 19 of the NIA Act and Section 309 of CrPC.

Hon’ble Court proceeded to direct the Registrar General of Court to transfer pending cases in Bengaluru Urban District registered under UAPA Act provisions to a special court of City Civil and Sessions Courts for hearing and final disposal.

Case Before the Court:

The petitioner told the court that UAPA cases were not being disposed of expeditiously. He further submitted that due to the delay in disposal of cases, the Fundamental Rights of the accused guaranteed in Article 21 of the Constitution is violated.

He also drew the court’s attention to section 19 of the NIA act and Section 309 of CrPC; he prayed the Court to direct the trial court to dispose of all UAPA cases in six months and to hold hearings daily.

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Observations of the Bench:

Hon’ble Court noted that due to the Court’s order, the Registrar General had submitted a report stating that a judicial officer has been appointed in the special court.

The bench ruled that 33 UAPA cases pending before different courts should be transferred to the court of 49 Additional City Civil and Sessions Court (CCH-50). However, all formalities should be completed before the cases are transferred.

Regarding disposal of cases, the Bench opined that some members couldn’t regularly attend court due to the pandemic, and even the police are under pressure. Due to the lockdown, the pendency in courts has also increased.

Decision:

Hon’ble Court held that they could not issue a writ of mandamus; they cannot lay down an outer limit for disposing of UAPA cases, but they directed the concerned judges to prioritise UAPA cases and ensure that they are decided expeditiously.

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