The Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in Khalid V. State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi), CRL.M.C. 1697/2020 held that an accused under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 has the right to be heard against an application for extension of time for completion of investigation accruing out of the proviso to Section 167 of the Cr.P.C as modified by Section 43(d)(2) of UAPA.
The accused was charged under UAPA in relation to Delhi Riots, claiming that the ASJ denied his right to oppose the application for extension of time of the investigation against him under UAPA as well wrongfully denied him copies of the application of the Public Prosecutor.
The bench headed by Hon’ble justice Vibhu Bakru while examining the question as to the right of the accused to be heard and seek copies of application seeking extension of time for completion of investigation under UAPA observed that, “The two questions that are required to be addressed in this petition are: first, whether the accused has a right to be heard to oppose an application seeking extension of time for completion of investigation moved in terms of the proviso to Section 167 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Cr.PC) as inserted by virtue of Section 43D(2) of the UAPA; and second, if the answer to the aforesaid question is in the affirmative, whether the accused has a right to a copy of the application seeking extension of time for completion of the investigation and also the report submitted by the Public Prosecutor in terms of the proviso to Section 167 of the Cr.PC as inserted by virtue of Section 43D(2) of the UAPA.”
It was further observed that “It is apparent from the above that a court is proscribed from extending the judicial custody beyond the period specified without a notice to the accused. The purpose of the notice is to afford him an opportunity to oppose the grant of extension beyond the period of ninety days on all legitimate and legal grounds as available to him. The above passage was also referred to by the Division Bench of this Court in Syed Maqbool v. NIA: (2014) 8 HCC (Del)107. In that case, the Division Bench of this Court had, after noting the aforesaid passage, observed that the said decision did not assist the appellants (in that case) in any manner, because notice was served upon the appellants and the learned Designated Court had extended time after arguments were heard.” It was further expounded that “the question whether an accused has a right to be heard to oppose an application seeking extension of his custody and extension of time for completion of the investigation, is answered in the affirmative.”
While examining the issue of supply of copies of the application the Hon’ble Court observed that “The reasons for concealing the report of the Public Prosecutor and the case diaries from the accused during the period of the investigation is to ensure that the investigation is not frustrated. As discussed hereinabove, the manner in which the investigation is progressing and further inquiries that are proposed to take place need not be disclosed to the accused as such disclosure may have the propensity to adversely affect the investigation. It is for this reason that neither the case diaries nor the report submitted by the public prosecutor are required to be furnished to the accused nor are the reasons required to be set out in any detail in the order granting extension of time for completion of the investigation.”