"Magistrate not competent, only competent authority to extend time for investigation is 'the Court'": Supreme Court

  • Gautam Mishra
  • 02:02 PM, 10 Sep 2021

The Supreme Court has recently held that a Magistrate cannot extend the time period for filing of charge-sheet or for completing investigation in a plea challenging order of the High Court dismissing an application under default bail.

A bench of Justice UU Lalit, Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice Bela M Trivedi noted, "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."

The appeal has been filed by four accused arrested for charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, against a Madhya Pradesh High Court order which upheld the denial of bail by a court in Bhopal to the accused persons.

Before the Bhopal Court, the accused had pleaded for default bail on the grounds that the police had failed to conclude its probe and submit a charge sheet within the stipulated period of 90 days. In March 2014, the court rejected their bail plea on the ground that the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bhopal extended the time for filing of the charge sheet in their case from 90 days to 180 days.

Madhya Pradesh High Court had noted that, "since the CJM, Bhopal had passed an appropriate order on 20th March, 2014, the period available for the Investigating Machinery to complete the investigation stood extended to 180 days and as such the applications preferred by the appellants under Section 167(2) of the Code were not maintainable and that the appellants were not entitled to the relief as prayed for."

However, while referring to the judgment of the Apex Court in the case of Bikramjit Singh vs. State of Punjab the bench noted, "so far as all offences under the UAPA are concerned, the Magistrate’s jurisdiction to extend time under the first proviso in Section 43-D (2)(b) is non-existent."

However, the bench while allowing the default bail, directed the appellants to be produced before the Trial Court within 3 days and asked the Trial Court to release them on bail subject to the appropriate conditions. The bench further directed the Trial Court to conclude the proceedings in the case as early as possible.

Case Title: Sadique & Ors. Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh