By Rajnish Singh
New Delhi, Jan 7 (IANS) Months after the National Investigation Agency (Amendment) Act, 2019 came into being, the Ministry of Home Affairs has decided to designate a Special Court in West Bengal to handle trials of scheduled offences being probed by the central anti-terror investigative body.
Aimed at expeditious judicial trial in scheduled offences being probed by the NIA, the MHA issued a gazette notification, as per the law, on Monday to designate a special court which will now handle all such matters in West Bengal except the cases reported in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts of the state.
The notification mentions that the Central government in consultation with the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court “designates the Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Court No. 3 at Bichar Bhawan, Calcutta as the Special Court for the trial of the scheduled offences investigated by the NIA”.
“The jurisdiction of the Special Court shall extend throughout the state of West Bengal (except the Districts of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar),” the notification said.
As per the notification, the Centre took the decision “in exercise of the powers conferred by section 11 of the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008 (34 of 2008)” and “in supersession of the notification published in the Gazette of India, Extraordinary, Part-II, Section 3, Sub-section (ii), vide number S.O. 2937(E), dated the 9th August, 2019, except as respects things done or omitted to be done before such supersession.”
The gazette notification was issued after the NIA (Amendment) Act, 2019 got the assent of the President on July 24 last year following its passage from the Lok Sabha on July 15, 2019, and the Rajya Sabha on July 17, 2019 with amendment to the NIA Act, 2008.
Earlier, Court of the Chief Judge, City Sessions Court, Calcutta was designated as the Special Court for the trial of scheduled offences having jurisdiction in all the districts of West Bengal, except Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar, as per a gazette notification issued on July 16, 2012 under sub-section (1) of section 11 of the NIA Act, 2008, (34 of 2008).
As there was no updated notification for the trial of scheduled offences occurring in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts of West Bengal, the cases registered in these regions will be presented before a special court in Siliguri.
As per a notification issued on April 29, 2011, the Central government notified the Court of Seniormost Additional District and Sessions Judges at Siliguri as the Special Court for the purpose of sub-section (1) of Section 11 of the NIA Act, 2008 for the trial of scheduled offences in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar districts of West Bengal.
The new Act gives power to the Central government to constitute Special Courts for NIA cases by notification in the official gazette for the trial of scheduled offences. It also provides power to a national-level agency to investigate and prosecute offences listed in a schedule (scheduled offences).
A Special Court shall be presided over by a judge to be appointed by the Central government on the recommendation of the Chief Justice of the High Court. The agency may make an application to the Chief Justice of the High Court for appointment of a Judge to preside over the Special Court.
On receipt of an application under sub-section (4), the Chief Justice shall, as soon as possible and not later than seven days, recommend the name of a judge for being appointed to preside over the Special Court.
The Central government may, if required, appoint an additional judge or additional judges to the Special Court, on the recommendation of the Chief Justice of the High Court.
A person shall not be qualified for appointment as a judge or an additional judge of a Special Court unless he is, immediately before such appointment, a Sessions Judge or an Additional Sessions Judge in any state.
(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at [email protected])