Special Courts constituted under SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act) alone empowered to take direct cognizance of offence

Chhattisgarh High Court: The Single Bench of Sanjay K. Agrawal, J. has held that the Special Courts constituted under Section 14 of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 alone have the jurisdiction to directly take cognizance of an offence under the provisions of Section 3(1)(x) and not the Judicial/trial Magistrate. The Court of Judicial Magistrate is not a Special Court as notified by the State Government within the meaning of Section 14 of the 1989 Act read with Section 193 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.

A complaint was lodged against the petitioner whereby the Judicial Magistrate First Class, Raipur, after recording evidence, took cognizance of the offence punishable under Section 3(1)(x). This order was affirmed by the Sessions Court observing that though jurisdiction was conferred on the Special Court/Special Judge, the jurisdiction of the trial Magistrate to directly entertain a complaint was not specifically barred.

Quashing the orders of the Judicial Magistrate as well as that of the Sessions Judge, the Court observed that  the Special Courts alone have the power to directly take cognizance in view of the amendment of Section 14 by the Amendment Act, 2015. Thus, the Judicial Magistrate had no jurisdiction to entertain and take cognizance of the offence and the order of the learned Magistrate, being contrary to Section 14 read with Section 193 CrPC was without jurisdiction and authority of law. [Achla D. Sapre v. Asha Mahilkar, 2016 SCC OnLine Chh 294, decided on February 25, 2016]

To read the Order, click HERE

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