Justice Mukta Gupta, hearing a plea by an accused who has been in custody for eight year in an NIA case under UAPA and seeking day-to-day hearing, granted four weeks time to the officials to file the response.
Counsel for the registry, Gaurav Agarwal, stated that as on July 31, total 37 cases pertaining to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) were pending before the two designated courts in the Patiala House Court complex here -- a sessions judge and the district & sessions judge.
He sought time from the court to ascertain if the NIA cases were not being given “precedence” in these special courts.
“You need to investigate all this and find out why there is delay,” said the court.
“A further reply affidavit be filed by the high court giving the stage of trial in all NIA cases in courts specifically designated (under the NIA Act) and reason for delay, if any,” the court ordered.
In the petition filed through lawyer Kartik Murukutla, the petitioner Manzar Imam stated that there was a delay in trial in his case on account of there being only two designated courts which were also hearing non-NIA cases including bail matters, other IPC offences and MCOCA matters.
He contended that consequently all NIA accused were “languishing for years on end”, in violation of the fundamental right to a speedy trial under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
The Petitioner was arrested in August 2013 pursuant to an NIA case alleging that the members of the Indian Mujahideen, in association with the other IM sleeper cells based in the country and others, were conspiring to commit terrorist acts and making preparation for targeting various important and prominent places of India.
The FIR was registered for the alleged commission of offences under the provisions of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code.
“The Petitioner has to date been in custody for almost eight years and charges are yet to be framed in the matter. Arguments on charge in the matter began in 2014 itself, but continue to remain pending to date. At the current pace, and with 24 accused persons, it may be fairly anticipated that the trial is likely to take atleast another further eight years (as a moderate estimation) before completion,” the plea reads.
The petitioner has sought a direction to ensure that the special courts under Act deal exclusively with NIA investigated scheduled offences.
The matter would be heard next on October 22.