Patna High Court: While dismissing public interest litigations filed by the District Bar Association, Patna, and the Patna City Bar Association, the Full Bench comprising of I.A. Ansari, CJ., Navaniti Prasad Singh, Chakradhari Sharan Singh, JJ. held that the expression ‘Court of Session’, as it occurs in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, ordinarily, would include not only the Sessions Judge’s Court, but also the Courts of Additional and Assistant Sessions Judges.
Petitioners have challenged a Circular issued by the Patna High Court, addressed to all the District & Sessions Judges of the State of Bihar, wherein the High Court, in exercise of its power under Article 227 of the Constitution, had directed that an application, seeking anticipatory bail, under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, shall be filed in the office of the Sessions Judge, who would appropriately distribute such applications amongst the senior Additional Sessions Judges. It was submitted that only a Court of Session has been empowered to issue directions for anticipatory bail under Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, and, therefore, the High Court’s Circular was wholly without jurisdiction, and calls for interference.
The High Court after examining various provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and also that of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, concluded that the expression ‘Court of Session’, which occurs in the new Code, is contextual in nature and would ordinarily include not only the Sessions Judge, but also Additional or Assistant Sessions Judge. While the Sessions Judge presides over the sessions-division, an Additional or Assistant Sessions Judge merely exercises jurisdiction in a Court of Session. The Court also observed that wherever the Code intended that the power can be exercised only by a Sessions Judge, the Code has used the expression ‘Sessions Judge’ and not ‘Court of Session’. Lastly, the Court found that the Circular issued by the High Court, suffered from no legal infirmity and, therefore, the public interest litigations were accordingly dismissed. [District Bar Association, Civil Court, Patna v. State of Bihar, 2016 SCC OnLine Pat 5261, decided on October 27, 2016]