The Supreme Court observed that, when the offence involves investigation by the State police, Section 22 of the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008 (NIA Act) is applicable insofar as the issue of jurisdiction of the Court to try the offences is concerned.

The Court observed thus in an appeal preferred by the West Bengal State against the judgment of the Calcutta High Court.

The two-Judge Bench of Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice Sandeep Mehta held, “A bare perusal of sub-section (3) of Section 22 of NIA Act would make it clear that until a Special Court is constituted by the State Government under sub-Section (1) of Section 22, in case of registration of any offence punishable under UAPA, the Court of Sessions of the division, in which the offence has been committed, would have the jurisdiction as conferred by the Act on a Special Court and a fortiori, it would have all the powers to follow the procedure provided under Chapter IV of the NIA Act. … Admittedly, the present case involves investigation by the State police, and therefore, the provisions of Section 22 would be applicable insofar as the issue of jurisdiction of the Court to try the offences is concerned.”

Senior Advocate Siddhartha Dave appeared for the appellant while Advocate R. Mahadevan appeared for the respondent.

Facts of the Case -

Based on a written complaint filed by the Sub-Inspector, STF Police Station, Kolkata in 2021 informing about recovery of an unclaimed black coloured bagpack lying abandoned at Sahid Minar containing some written posters of CPI (Maoist) and some incriminating articles about the activities of CPI (Maoist), an FIR was registered for the offences punishable under Sections 121A, 122, 123, 124A, and 120B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). The respondent accused was apprehended in 2022 and was produced before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM).

The Investigating Officer conducted preliminary investigation and thereafter filed an application in the Court of the CMM praying for addition of offences punishable under Sections 16, 18, 18B, 20, 38, and 39 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA). The CMM, in turn, forwarded the matter to the Chief Judge, City Sessions Court for the considering the said application. The said Judge permitted addition of offences under the said provisions of UAPA and allowed the same to be investigated along with the existing offences for which the FIR was registered. The respondent approached the High Court with a prayer to quash the order of the Chief Judge and it accordingly quashed the same by allowing the respondent’s petition.

The Supreme Court after hearing the contentions of the counsel noted, “The State Government has been given exclusive power delegated by virtue of Section 22(1) of the Act (reproduced supra) to constitute one or more Special Courts for trial of offences under any or all the enactments specified in the Schedule.”

The Court said that it is not in dispute that the State has so far not exercised the power conferred upon it by Section 22 of the NIA Act for constituting a Special Court for trial of offences set out in the Schedule to the NIA Act and hence, the Sessions Court within whose jurisdiction, the offence took place which would be the Chief Judge cum City Sessions Court in the case, had the power and jurisdiction to deal with the case by virtue of the sub-section (3) of Section 22 of the NIA Act.

Furthermore, the Court observed, “Hence, the order dated 7th April, 2022, whereby the learned Chief Judge cum City Sessions Court permitted the addition of the offences under UAPA to the case does not suffer from any illegality or infirmity. … Under the proviso to Section 43D(2), the Court has been given the power to extend and authorise detention of the accused beyond a period of 90 days as provided under Section 167(2) CrPC.”

The Court said that a plain reading of Section 2(1)(d) of UAPA would clearly indicate that the same admits to the jurisdiction of a normal criminal Court and also includes a Special Court constituted under Section 11 or Section 22 of the NIA Act.

“Hence, the Chief Judge cum City Sessions Court had the jurisdiction to pass the order dated 7th April, 2022. In view of the definition of the ‘Court’ provided under Section 2(1)(d) of UAPA, the jurisdictional Magistrate would also be clothed with the jurisdiction to deal with the remand of the accused albeit for a period of 90 days only because an express order of the Sessions Court or the Special Court, as the case may be, authorising remand beyond such period would be required by virtue of Section 43D(2) of UAPA(reproduced supra)”, it added.

The Court also noted that to the extent the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate extended the remand of the accused beyond the period of 90 days, the proceedings were grossly illegal.

“Nonetheless, the fact remains that the charge sheet came to be filed beyond the period of 90 days and as a matter of fact, even beyond a period of 180 days, but the accused never claimed default bail on the ground that the charge sheet had not been filed within the extended period as per Section 43D of the UAPA. Hence, the only academic question left for the Court to examine in such circumstances would be the effect of evidence collected, if any, during this period of so called illegal remand, after 90 days had lapsed from the date of initial remand of the accused and the right of the accused to seek any other legal remedy against such illegal remand. Such issues would have to be raised in appropriate proceedings, i.e. before the trial court at the proper stage”, it held.

Accordingly, the Apex Court allowed the appeal and reversed the judgment of the High Court.

Cause Title- The State of West Bengal v. Jayeeta Das (Neutral Citation: 2024 INSC 313)


Appellant: Senior Advocate Siddhartha Dave, AOR Kunal Chatterji, Advocates Maitrayee Banerjee, Rohit Bansal, Kshitij Singh, and Sohhom Sau.

Respondent: Advocates R. Mahadevan, V. Balaji, C. Kannan, Nishant Sharma, Adviteeya, and AOR Rakesh K. Sharma.

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