The Allahabad High Court instructed the Uttar Pradesh government to explore the possibility of establishing additional Special Courts to expedite trials of scheduled offences under the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act.

The directive came during a hearing of a criminal appeal, where the Court addressed a legal query on the jurisdiction of NIA Courts.

A Division Bench of Justice Attau Rahman Masoodi and Justice Ajai Kumar Srivastava-I observed, “The position discussed above makes it evident that the Central Government and State Government both have notified the Special Courts. Besides the above, a Court of Judicial Magistrate is also stated to be functional for the purpose of trying the scheduled offences within its jurisdiction. The position as to the notification of Special Courts may be re considered by the State Government so as to streamline the process of justice strictly in accordance with the Act and the underlined objects therein.”

Advocate Nasreen Bano appeared for the Appellant.

Regarding jurisdiction, the Court clarified that NIA Courts are empowered to adjudicate offences investigated directly by the NIA, as well as those investigated jointly with the State or transferred back to the State for investigation. It highlighted Section 22 of the NIA Act, which allows the State government to designate Courts under the Act.

The Court noted the backlog of cases in Uttar Pradesh despite the large number of notified cases, urging the State to reconsider its notification of Special Courts to align with the Act's objectives. It also pointed out the absence of appointed Public Prosecutors and stressed the State's responsibility to ensure prompt investigations.

The Court also ordered, “We also deem it appropriate that the Director, Judicial Training & Research Institute (JTRI) shall provide training to the Judicial Officers working in all the Special Courts to achieve the distinctive objects of the relevant Acts, in its right perspective including NIA.”

The Court added, “this Court would further take note of the fact that by virtue of Section 15 of the Act, the State Government is bound to appoint Public Prosecutors insofar as the trials of scheduled offences by the Special Courts are concerned. We are informed that no such mechanism is in motion by the State Government to appoint Public Prosecutors to conduct the cases before the Special Courts which deserves to be considered by the State Government at the earliest, apart from ensuring prompt investigation in accordance with law.”

Cause Title: Lakhan v. State of U.P.


Appellant: Advocates Nasreen Bano and Shyam Kinkar Pandey

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