SC fiat on summoning of accused in criminal cases
13 oct 2010
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that summoning of accused persons cannot be withheld merely on the ground that it will hurt the interests of other accused who are "well-known" or just because the witnesses are related to the complainant.
A bench of Justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha in an order ticked off a trial court for refusing to summon certain accused merely because they were "well-known persons" and the Karnataka High Court for refusing the plea because of certain delay.
The apex court passed the order while upholding an appeal filed by the complainant Bangarayya in a criminal case challenging the refusal of the two courts to summon additional witnesses during the trial.
On a complaint filed on September 1, 2002, a case was registered against 17 persons, but police, after investigation, submitted chargesheets against only 14 persons under IPC Sections 143, 147, 149 (unlawful assembly), 323 (causing hurt), 427(damage to property), 504 (breach of public peace)and 506 (criminal intimidation). No chargesheet was filed against accused Nos 2, 3 and 6 named in the FIR.
The complainant filed an application under Section 319 CrPC for summoning of the three other accused. The State also also supported the plea for summoning of the three accused.
However, the trial court rejected the plea by taking the view that the two witnesses were related to the complainant and no independent witness had been examined before him.
The trial court observed that it would further delay the matter as some of the other accused were "teachers and well-known persons" and they would suffer due to the delay caused by summoning the additional accused.
Aggrieved by the decision, the complainant approached the High Court which dismissed his plea by citing delay in filing of the application following which he appealed in the Supreme Court.
Rejecting the reasonings, the apex court said the two witnesses were examined on August 24, 2007 and February 2, 2008 respectively and the application for summoning three other accused was filed on March 6, 2008.
"We are unable to see where was the delay. In those facts it is quite unreasonable to hold that the application was made after long delay and was, therefore, liable to be rejected. "The reason assigned by the trial court is equally untenable. The two witnesses being related to the complainant or the accused already before the court, being 'teachers and well-known persons' can be no ground to reject the petition under section 319 of the Code for summoning some other persons as well for facing the trial," the apex court observed.
It directed the trial court to consider afresh the plea for summoning of the additional accused.