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Appointment of Special Judges Under The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988

Appointment of Special Judges

Section 3 - Appointment of Special Judges:
The Central Government or State Government can appoint special judges through an official notification in the Gazette for specific areas or cases.
  1. Any offense punishable under this Act.
  2. Any conspiracy, attempt, or abetment related to the offenses mentioned in (a).
To be eligible for appointment as a special judge under this Act, a person must have served as a Sessions Judge, Additional Sessions Judge, or Assistant Sessions Judge under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

Section 4 - Cases Triable by Special Judges:

  1. Special Judges, designated under the Prevention of Corruption Act, are the only ones allowed to handle corruption cases mentioned in Section 3(1) of the Act. Regular courts can't handle these cases.
  2. The Special Judge responsible for a specific area handles cases related to corruption that occur within that area. If there are multiple Special Judges in an area, the Central Government can specify which one should handle a particular case.
  3. Special Judges can also try other related offenses not specifically listed in Section 3. For instance, if a person is accused of corruption and other crimes under regular criminal law, these can be tried together in one trial.

Speedy Trial:

The Act stresses the need for a quick trial. Ideally, a corruption case should be completed within two years. If it takes longer, the Special Judge must provide reasons for the delay. Extensions, up to six months at a time, are allowed, but the total trial duration should not typically exceed four years.

Section 5 - Procedure and Powers of Special Judge:

  1. Legal Proceedings: A special Judge can begin legal actions against people accused of corruption without a preliminary step. During the trial, they follow the same rules as magistrates.
  2. Offering Pardon: If someone involved in corruption cooperates fully by sharing all the information they know about the crime and others involved, the special Judge can grant them a pardon.
  3. Regular Legal Procedures: Except for certain exceptions, regular legal procedures apply in cases before a special Judge. The special Judge's court is like a Court of Session, and the person prosecuting the case is a public prosecutor.
  4. Specific Provisions: Certain sections of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, such as sections 326 and 475, are specifically applied to proceedings before a special Judge. In these cases, the special Judge is treated as a magistrate.
  5. Sentencing Authority: A special Judge has the authority to impose any legally permissible sentence on a person who has been convicted of a corruption offense.
  6. Exercise of Powers: When handling cases involving offenses under this Act, a special Judge has the same powers and functions as a District Judge under the Criminal Law Amendment Ordinance, 1944.

Section 6 - Power to Try Summarily:

  1. If a special Judge is trying a case involving a public servant who has allegedly violated specific orders related to the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, or other specified orders, the special Judge can use a quicker "summary" trial method, even if regular procedures call for a longer process.
  2. Summary Trial Rules: During a summary trial, certain rules (sections 262 to 265 of the Code of Criminal Procedure) apply, making the process more streamlined.
  3. Maximum Sentence: In a summary trial, if the accused is found guilty, the special Judge can only give a maximum sentence of one year in prison.
  4. Exception to Summary Trial: If the special Judge believes that a longer prison term might be necessary or for other reasons, they can decide to stop the summary trial and proceed with a more standard trial, following the procedures for warrant cases by magistrates.
  5. No Appeal for Short Sentences: If the special Judge sentences the accused to one month or less in prison and fines not exceeding two thousand rupees (with or without additional orders), there can be no appeal. However, if the sentence exceeds these limits, the convicted person can appeal.

Written By: Harshavardhan Prakash Deshmukh, 4th Year Of B.A.LL.B. - Modern Law College, Pune,

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