Special Judge under the PC Act can also try non-PC Act case with the object of trying connected cases before same court

Supreme Court: Deciding the matter relating to the question that whether the Special Judge can try a non PC Act case when his appointment is to try all cases of the category which covers the case at hand, the Court held that procedure of Code of Criminal Procedure is applicable to trial before Special Judge and there is no prejudice to trial that is taking place before Special Judge duly appointed to deal with non PC cases when the object of doing so was to try connected cases before same court. It was held that while Special Judge alone could deal with cases under the PC Act, non-PC Act could also be allowed to be tried by the Special Judge under Section 26 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

In the matter relating to CBI’s investigation in the “National Rural Health Mission Scam” (NHRM Scam), the question arose regarding the jurisdiction of the Special Judge appointed under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 to try a person other than a public servant if the public servant dies before the commencement of the trial. The co-accused charged for offence of conspiracy along with a public servant who was charged under the PC Act approached the High Court of Allahabad with the plea of lack of jurisdiction of the Special Judge to deal with the case against it after the death of the public servant. The High Court dismissed the said petition by relying upon the judgment of this Court in Essar Teleholdings Limited Vs. Registrar General, Delhi High Court, (2013) 8 SCC 1, wherein it was held that the Special Judge having been appointed to deal with “all 2G scam” cases, could also deal with cases involving other offences under the PC Act. The contention raised by the appellant was that the charges against it were under Section 120B read with Sections 409 and 420 IPC and Section 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of the PC Act and there is no independent PC Act charge against it. The appellant based it’s contention upon the ruling in State v. Jitender Kumar Singh, (2014) 11 SCC 724, where the public servant was no more and the trial had not commenced it was held that the appellant could be tried only during the lifetime of the public servant.

The bench of V. Gopala Gowda and Adarsh Kumar Goel, JJ rejected the aforementioned contention and agreeing with the reasoning of the High Court, held that the Jitendra Kumar case did not apply as in the case at hand, the charge is yet to be framed and the framing of charge under the PC Act from the material placed on record was not ruled and also the Special Judge was competent to deal with non PC Act cases relating to NRHM scam. [Dr. Vijai Tripathi v. CBI, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 804, decided on 09.08.2016]

 

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