Staff Reporter

Among special courts under SC/ST Act

MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has expressed concern over the lack of uniformity among the special courts, notified under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, in dealing with bail applications.

Justice P.R. Shivakumar found the discrepancies especially in cases where the High Court refuses to grant anticipatory bail to a petitioner and instead directs him to surrender before the special court and seek regular bail on the day of surrender.

While dealing with such bail applications, the special courts should not entertain the petition even before the surrender of the accused and keep the matter pending until they received the case records from the judicial magistrates concerned, the Judge said.

A person accrued the right to file a bail application only when he/she was in custody and not otherwise. Further, the special court need not call for the records from the Magistrate to adjudicate the matter. It could dispose of the petition after issuing notice to the public prosecutor who may produce all relevant documents, the Judge added.

On yet another “improper” procedure followed by the special courts, the Judge said that they could not directly remand the accused in the event of dismissing the bail application. The special courts could only refer the accused to the jurisdictional magistrate or a nearest magistrate for passing remand orders.

The Supreme Court in Gangula Ashok versus State of Andhra Pradesh (2000) had held that a special court under SC/ST Act was essentially a Court of Session and it could take cognisance of an offence only when the case was committed to it by the magistrate concerned, Mr. Justice Shivakumar said.