Karnataka HC seeks information from lower court on pending UAPA cases

This direction has been filed in a petition seeking establishment of an additional court for trial of UAPA cases

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A Karnataka High Court Bench headed by Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas directed the Registrar General of the High Court to seek details from the Sessions Courts about the various stages at which cases registered under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act are pending, reported Bar & Bench.

A plea has been filed by one Vaseemuddin A, seeking the establishment of an additional UAPA court in Karnataka because of the high rate of pending UAPA cases. According to Bar & Bench, Advocate Mohammed Tahir appearing for the petitioner told the High Court that in many cases, trials have been pending for over 12 years.

Mohammed Tahir urged the Court to pass an order under section 309 (power to postpone or adjourn proceedings) of the Code of Criminal Procedure but the court refused to do so and remarked, “We cannot pass an order under section 309. 309 is an ideal provision but we don’t live in an ideal world.”

The High Court has been informed that there are about 56 cases registered under the UAPA which are pending. Bar & Bench further reported on the dialogue between the petitioner and the court during the hearing of the matter. The Chief Justice asked the counsel, “Why do you need a special Court? Look at the number of pending cases..”

Mohammad Tahir said, “In spite of the number of cases, trial is pending.” The petitioner had argued that despite provisions for speedy trial, witnesses are not being examined promptly nor is there any pressure put on prosecution by the presiding judges to speed up the trial. As reported by B&B, the petition read:

“It is submitted that being merely accused in cases related with the UAPA cases, the accused are treated as a special class of accused and every stage from investigation to charge to recording of evidence and completion of trial takes considerable time….. Unfortunately, in spite of express provision in section 309 of CrPC and section 19 of the NIA of speedy trial or day to day trial, presiding officers neither press investigating agencies to promptly present the witnesses nor press prosecutors to proceed with the trial which add into the misery of the accused.”

Since, such delays lead to gross violation of right to speedy trial which is a facet of Article 21 of the Constitution, the petitioner prayed that setting up a special Court which exclusively deals with UAPA cases is essential.

Recently, by an important judgment of the Supreme Court, a UAPA accused was granted bail in a case where he had already spent more than 5 years in jail and the trial had not even started. The court held that this particular case was more egregious since not only has been in custody for more than five years but 276 witnesses were yet to be examined.

The court observed that if he was found guilty, he would also be sentenced around 8 years like the other convicted persons in the case and given that “two-third of such incarceration is already complete, it appears that the respondent has already paid heavily for his acts of fleeing from justice.”


If timely trial not possible and accused spent considerable time in jail, courts obligated to grant bail: SC in UAPA
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