Special courts for MP/MLAs manned by sessions judge can hear cases, SC told

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court has been told that there is no illegality in the constitution of special courts, for cases against MPs/MLAs, at the sessions level for trial of both sessions' cases and magisterial trial cases.

In a report, amicus curiae senior advocate Vijay Hansaria, who was assisted by advocate Sneha Kalita, said: "Constitution of special courts both at the sessions and the magistrate level is desirable. However, no illegality can be attached to the constitution of special courts at sessions level for trial of both sessions' cases and magisterial trial cases, as the accused persons will get a fair trial before the said court."

The report was filed after a plea was moved by Samajwadi Party leader and MP Azam Khan seeking directions for setting up of a special magistrate court in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh.

Khan had contended that as per the order of apex court, only a magistrate can try cases against legislators and not the sessions' judge.

A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana and comprising justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant had sought response from the amicus, whether a sessions judge could hear these cases?

The report said: "The right of first appeal is not taken away, and instead of Session Court, the appeal would lie to the High Court. The right of revision is not an inherent right but only a supervisory jurisdiction."

The report also asked the top court to issue directions "to all the High Courts and the state governments to constitute special courts both at sessions level and at magistrate level in each district or group of districts as may be considered appropriate, having regard to the number of cases and geographical location".

For speedy trial in criminal cases against MPs/ MLAs, the Centre sanctioned special courts following the apex court's suggestion in 2017 in a PIL filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.

The report added: "This Hon'ble Court may be pleased to clarify that the directions to constitute Special Court both at Sessions level and Magistrate level will not affect the orders passed by the Special Courts at the Sessions level in respect of cases triable by Magistrate under the Cr.P.C."

The report said the special court manned by the sessions judge or additional sessions judge shall transfer cases triable by magistrate to the special court presided over by the magistrate under the respective jurisdiction and the magistrate shall conduct the trial from the stage the file has been received.

"The Magisterial trial cases already concluded or pending trial will not be open to challenge only on the ground that the final judgement and/or the interim orders have been passed by the Special Court headed by an officer of the rank of Sessions Judge," added the report.


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