Magistrates can’t extend probe under UAPA: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court has held that magistrates cannot favour the probe agency to extend the period of investigation in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) cases at will.
Under UAPA, the investigation has to be completed within 90 days. If not, the accused is entitled to default bail.
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,” a three-judge Bench, led by Justice U.U. Lalit, observed.
By ‘the Court’, the Bench meant the Special Court under the UAPA.
The apex court was dealing with a UAPA case in which the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh allowed the investigating agency’s request to extend the period of investigation in March 2014.
However, the accused, Sadique and others, sought bail on finding that the investigating agency had not filed a chargesheet in the first 90 days of the probe. Their bail was refused.
In appeal, the State High Court rejected the accused’s plea to quash the case, saying the magistrate had passed an appropriate order, the period of the probe was rightly extended to 180 days and the plea for bail was not maintainable.
The apex court set aside the High Court decision and granted bail to the accused while noting that only the Special Court under UAPA has jurisdiction to extend the period of investigation to 180 days.