New Delhi: An appeal against a bail order of a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court would be heard only by a division bench of a High Court, the Supreme Court on Friday said.
"An appeal from an order of the special court under NIA Act, refusing or granting bail, shall lie only to a bench of two judges of the High Court," a bench comprising justices H L Gokhale and J Chelameswar said.
The bench also clarified that bail applications of an accused, who is facing trial before a special NIA court under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), would be heard by the designated court itself and not by the high court.
"It is made clear that inasmuch as the applicant is being prosecuted for the offences under the MCOCA as well as the UAPA, such offences are triable only by special court and, therefore, application for bail in such matters will have to be made before the special court under NIA Act, 2008, and shall not lie before the High Court either under sections 439 or 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure," it said.
The apex court`s order came while dismissing two separate pleas, including one by 2008 Malegoan blast case key accused Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, seeking clarification of its August 2 order on whether a single-judge bench of a high court can hear appeals on bail matters in cases filed under NIA Act.
The bench also said that where the NIA Act applies, the accused can apply for bail only before the special court which has been designated to deal with such cases.
"Thus, where the NIA Act applies, the original application for bail shall lie only before the special court and appeal against the orders therein shall lie only to a bench of two judges of the High Court," the bench said.
Twelve persons, including Thakur and Lt Col Prasad Purohit, were arrested for allegedly carrying out a blast at Malegaon on September 29, 2008, killing six persons and injuring 100 others.
The accused have been booked under the stringent MCOCA, UAPA and for various offences punishable under the Indian Penal Code.