Tamil Nadu

‘Special courts for hearing graft cases not entitled to grant anticipatory bail’

Only sessions courts and the High Court have the power to do that: HC

The special courts constituted across the State to try Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) cases are not empowered to entertain anticipatory bail applications filed by the accused, since such power has been conferred only on the sessions courts and the High Court under the Code of Criminal Procedure, the Madras High Court has held.

Justice M. Dhandapani passed the ruling after differing with a majority view taken on the issue by two judges of a Full Bench (comprising three judges) in the Patna High Court and concurring with a minority view of the third judge in the Bench.

‘Erroneous decision’

He observed that the majority decision of the Full Bench was “erroneous”.

“This court, with great respect to the learned judges on the Bench, is unable to accept the said view expressed therein. This court, holistically, is in agreement with the minority view expressed by the learned Judge on the Full Bench who has given his dissent holding that the special court is not vested with jurisdiction to take on board an advance bail application,” he said.

The judge also directed the Registrar (Judicial) M. Jothiraman of the High Court to place his present judgment, on the issue of entertaining anticipatory bail petitions, before Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi for being circulated to all trial courts in the State as well as those in the Union Territory of Puducherry to be followed henceforth.

The orders were passed on a petition filed by V. Sridharan who had been booked by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) under PCA. Though the accused initially filed an anticipatory bail petition before the Principal Sessions Court in Tiruvallur, it was returned with an endorsement to move it before an appropriate forum.

He then moved the Chief Judicial Magistrate court, designated as a Special Court for PCA cases, but the latter refused to entertain his plea. Hence, the accused had moved the High Court with the present petition seeking a direction to the special court to entertain his anticipatory bail plea and dispose it of on merits.

Refusing to issue such a direction, Justice Dhandapani said Section 438 of the CrPC makes it clear that advance bail petitions could be filed only before a court of sessions or a High Court. Since a special court acts as a Magistrate court during initial stages of taking cognisance of a case and performs the duty of a sessions court only during trial, it was not empowered to entertain a plea for anticipatory bail, he held.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 12:32:55 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/special-courts-for-hearing-graft-cases-not-entitled-to-grant-anticipatory-bail/article30926683.ece

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