What are the Functions of the Metropolitan Magistrates’ Courts in India?

Section 8 of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides that the State Government may, by notification, declare any area in that State comprising a city or a town with a population of more than one million to be a metropolitan area for the purpose of the Criminal Procedure Code. Moreover, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Ahmedabad are expressly declared by the Code to be metropolitan areas.

In every such metropolitan area, there may be as many Courts of Metropolitan Magistrates as the State Government may specify, after consulting the High Court. The Presiding Officers of such Courts are to be appointed by the High Court, and the jurisdiction and powers of every Metropolitan Magistrate extend throughout the metropolitan area.

In relation to every metropolitan area within its jurisdiction, the High Court appoints a Metropolitan Magistrate to be the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate for that area. Likewise, the High Court may appoint any Metropolitan Magistrate to be an Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, with all or any of the powers of a Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, as may be directed by the High Court.

If requested by the Central or State Government, the High Court may confer on any person who holds (or has held) any post under the Government, all or any of the powers conferred on a Metropolitan Magistrate, in respect of particular cases, or a particular class of cases, or cases generally.

Such Magistrates are known as Special Metropolitan Magistrates, and can be appointed for a maximum of one year at a time. Moreover, under S. 18 of the Code, such a Magistrate cannot impose any sentence which a Judicial Magistrate of the Second Class is not competent to impose.

It is also provided that the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate and every Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate is subordinate to the Sessions Judge, and every other Metropolitan Magistrate is subordinate to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate. S. 19 empowers the High Court to define the extent of subordination, if any, of the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate. It is for the latter to make rules for the distribution of business amongst the Metropolitan Magistrates and for the allocation of business to an Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate.