The Allahabad High Court reiterated that Section 319 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC) should be invoked when there is more than a prima facie case against the additional accused than that required at the stage of framing of charge.

The Court rejected a Revision Petition challenging the Trial Court's order dismissing an application under section 319 of the CrPC, seeking to summon the Fourth Respondent in a kidnapping and murder case.

The Court noted the nuanced application of Section 319 CrPC in summoning an additional accused, emphasizing the need for a more substantial case against the Accused, surpassing the prima facie evaluation conducted during the framing of charges.

The Bench of Justice Ram Manohar Narayan Mishra observed, “the legal position that crucial test, which must be implied while summoning a person as additional accused, in exercise of power under section 319 Cr.P.C., is to find out more than a prima facie case against the accused as exercised at the time of framing of charge but falls short of satisfaction to the effect that evidence if unrebutted would lead to conviction”.

Advocate Shashi Ranjan Srivastava appeared for the Petitioner and Additional General Advocate Manoj Kumar Maurya appeared for the State.

The Petitioner approached the High Court challenging the order passed by the Trial Court which dismissed the application under section 319 of the CrPC seeking to summon the Fourth Respondent as a conspirator in a case involving kidnapping and murder. The Petitioner had filed an FIR, alleging that her uncle (Fourth Respondent) conspired with the co-accused to abduct and murder her due to a property dispute. The Petitioner alleged that despite evidence from witnesses supporting her version, the Trial Court dismissed the application, citing insufficient evidence linking the proposed accused to the crime.

In this case, the Court observed that the Fourth Respondent was alleged to have orchestrated a fraudulent sale deed of his property in favour of his wife through the Petitioner's father, prompting protests by the Petitioner and villagers at the SDM's office. The Accused lured the Petitioner onto their motorcycle, claiming to head towards her village, but diverted to a different route. The kidnappers asserted they were bribed by her uncle to kill her, yet the Petitioner escaped, and villagers apprehended one kidnapper. The main evidence against the Fourth Respondent relied on statements made to the Petitioner during the abduction.

The Bench further highlighted that the accusation against the Fourth Respondent as a conspirator was based on an alleged extra-judicial confession by co-accused individuals to the Petitioner during her kidnapping. Regarding such confessions, the Bench stressed their weak evidentiary value, requiring scrutiny and corroboration for reliability. Citing Subramanya v State of Karnataka, the Bench emphasized the limited use of co-accused confessions for corroboration, not as sole grounds for conviction.

Referring to Hardeep Singh v State of Punjab [(2014) 3 SCC 92], the Bench reiterated that summoning under section 319 CrPC demands a case stronger than prima facie, falling short of the certainty that uncontroverted evidence would lead to conviction.

The Court, considering its discretion in co-accused confessions, concluded that there was no infirmity in the Trial Court's order. The Trial Court rightly rejected the application under section 319 CrPC, as the criteria in Hardeep Singh (supra) were not met, lacking prima facie material and satisfaction that uncontroverted evidence would ensure conviction.

Accordingly, the Court dismissed the Petition.

Cause Title: Priyanka Mall @ Mahima v State Of U.P. And 3 Others (2024:AHC:3954)

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