The Delhi police has informed the Delhi High Court that it has registered 83 cases under the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) since 2005. Of the total 83 cases, 40 have since been decided, another 29 is pending trial while the remaining 14 is pending investigation.
The Delhi police, in a status report filed in the High Court, stated that though a total of 98 cases were lodged under the UAPA, 15 of them were transferred to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
In October, the High Court, which is seized of multiple cases pertaining to the UAPA, had ordered the police to give data on how many chargesheets, under the UAPA, were filed within 90 days. The court had also sought data on the number of cases where extension of time was sought, and the period of extension granted.
Responding to the High Court’s query, the city police stated that chargesheets were filed in 40 cases within 90 days, while an extension was sought in 20 cases. Of the 14 cases where an investigation is pending, no arrest has been made in 12 cases. In two cases, arrests have been made but the initial 90 days are not completed.
The High Court is seized of five separate cases where the accused has challenged Section 43 D (2) of the UAPA which permits the court concerned to extend by another 90 days the remand of the accused beyond the 90-day period on being satisfied with the report of the public prosecutor indicating the progress of the investigation.
A Bench of Justice Mukta Gupta and Justice Anish Dayal has decided to consider three questions of law involved in such cases. Firstly, whether at the time of extension of time for a further period beyond 90 days’ remand by the court, the report furnished by the public prosecutor is required to be supplied to the accused.
On the second issue, the High Court will decide whether at the time of extension of the remand for a further period beyond 90 days based on the public prosecutor’s report the court should satisfy three requirements - what is the progress of the investigation carried out, whether any further investigation is required to be done, and whether continued detention of the accused for further investigation is necessary.
Thirdly, the High Court will see whether the court can grant extension of remand of further 90 days beyond an initial period in one go or the said remand should be granted as per the requirement of investigation in a truncated manner so as to oversee the progress in investigation.
One of the petitioners before the High Court has contended the test for granting an extension is that of “impossibility of completion of investigation within 90 days”, which was materially different from inability or the mere fact of non-completion of examination of call records or other related investigation.
“The higher threshold of ‘impossibility’ has been inserted for good reasons since the UAPA being a special Act already grants an extraordinarily long period of 90 days for pre-charge detention of the accused, which is an exception in criminal justice jurisprudence,” the petition said.
“Thus, any further extension of the period of detention without charge has to be assessed on a higher threshold,” the plea added.