The Supreme Court on Wednesday orally observed that the Allahabad High Court has misinterpreted its order by not creating magisterial courts for trying cases against MPs/MLAs, and instead allowing sessions courts to try such cases.
A bench, headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana and comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant told the high court’s counsel: “Don’t misinterpret our orders. We know what our orders are..”
The Chief Justice further queried the counsel: “If you don’t create magisterial courts, and give the cases to in-charge sessions judges, for how many years will the cases drag on? Was it our intention?”
The high court’s counsel contended before the top court that nearly 13,000 cases are pending in Uttar Pradesh against sitting and former MPs and MLAs and added that 62 special courts are there to try these cases. On August 16, 2019, the high court issued a notification by which special courts of additional district and sessions judges were constituted for 62 out of the state’s 74 districts.
The bench emphasised that its previous order was clear on the constitution of as many sessions courts and magisterial courts as required, and the high court had “misinterpreted our order”.
The high court’s counsel added that special courts were created at sessions level and not at magistrate level and it was done as per the orders passed by the top court.
Citing the top court order on September 16 last year in advocate Ashwini Upadhyay matter, the bench said there is nothing in the order to indicate that this court wanted to transfer the cases triable by magistrates to sessions court by exercising powers under Article 142.
The top court, in its order, said: “We further direct that cases triable by Magistrates which are pending before the Sessions Court in view of the Circular dated August 16, 2019 shall stand transferred to the Court of competent jurisdiction.”
“However, the entire record and proceedings shall be transferred to the Court of the designated Magistrate and the proceedings shall commence from the stage which has been reached prior to the transfer of the proceedings, as a consequence of which the trial shall not have to commence afresh,” it added.
The top court said these directions will govern the generality of cases involving former and sitting legislators in UP, which are to be tried by special courts by the sessions courts or, as the case may be, magistrates’ courts in terms of the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The top court said the high court should issue a fresh circular in conformity of this order.
It also clarified that high court should accordingly ensure allocation of criminal cases involving former and sitting legislatures to as many sessions courts and magisterial courts as required, in order that cases which are triable by a magistrate are assigned to a designated court of a magistrate, while cases triable by a sessions court are assigned to a designated court of sessions.
The top court was hearing the applications filed by senior SP leader Azam Khan against the notification issued by the Allahabad High Court, by which cases triable by magistrates are transferred to the special court headed by an officer of the rank of additional sessions judge.