E C ACT CASES - TRIAL

NOW ONLY A JUDICIAL MAGISTRATE CAN TRY CASES UNDER EC Act, 1981

Hon'ble SUPREME COURT in State of Tamil Nadu v. Paramasiva Pandian, 2002 C Cr. LR (SC) 124 while deciding Criminal Appeal Nos.1091-93 of 2001 observed that EC (Special Provisions) Act, lapsed by efflux of time and therefore, now a Special Judge can not exercise jurisdiction under the EC Act. The relevant paras are quoted below:-

“15. The factual position which was not controverted before uswas that the special court at Madurai constituted for trial of EC Act cases ceased to exist after October, 1998 when the lastperiod of extension of EC(Special Provisions) Act lapsed. In the present case the offences under the EC Act were alleged tohave been committed by the respondents in February, 2000 long after the special court for EC Act cases had ceased toexist. The accused were arrested in the months of February and April, 2000. The cases registered against the accused were, therefore, to be dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the principal Act i.e. EC Act, 1955 and section 11 of the EC Act provides that no Court shall take cognizance of any offence punishable under this Act except on a report in writing of the

facts constituting such offence made by a person who is a public servant as defined in section 21 of the Indian Penal Code or any person aggrieved or any recognised consumer association,whether such person is a member of that association or not. It is not disputed before us that prior to enforcement of the EC (Special Provisions) Act, 1981 which was enforced on 1.9.1982 cases under the EC Act were being tried by the area Magistrates within their respective territorial jurisdiction. As noted earlier, the special courts were constituted under section 12A of the EC (Special Provisions) Act. The said section provided, inter alia, that the State Government may for the purpose of providing speedy trial of the offence under the Act by notification in the official gazette constitute as many special courts as necessary for such areas as may be specified in the notification. A Special Court shall consist of a single judge who shall be appointed by the High Court upon a request made by the State Government. A person shall not be qualified for appointment as a judge of a Special Court unless (a) he is

qualified for appointment as a judge of a High Court, or (b) he has, for a period of not less than one year, been a Sessions Judge or an Additional Sessions Judge.


16. On a fair reading of the above provisions it is clear that during the period the EC(Special Provisions) Act was in force the special court constituted for trial of offences under EC Act had exclusive jurisdiction to try such cases. The special court had also the power to pass order of remand under section 167 but the position changed after the EC(Special Provisions) Act lapsed by efflux of time. Thereafter, the position that used to prevail before the EC(Special Provisions) Act was enforced,

stood restored and the judicial magistrates who were previously competent to try the EC Act cases got the jurisdiction to deal with such cases. The position is beyond any pale of doubt that the remand orders passed by the special court at Madurai, long after it had ceased to exercise jurisdiction in cases under the EC Act are incompetent.


17. Coming to the question whether the special Court constituted for trial of cases under the NDPS Act could exercise the power of remand of an accused in the EC Act case, which it was doing when the special court constituted for the EC Act cases was in existence, the answer to the question is in the

negative; for the simple reason that the special court constituted for NDPS Act cases is a Court of exclusive jurisdiction for trial of the particular class of cases provided under the NDPS Act and it

has not been vested with power of judicial Magistrate for the purpose of dealing with EC Act cases. To accept the contention raised on behalf of the appellant in this regard would in our view be contrary to the scheme of things under the Criminal Procedure Code which specifically vests the power of remand

under section 167 in judicial magistrate. The High Court was, therefore, right in negativing the contention raised on behalf of the State Government in this regard.

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