The Supreme Court has reiterated that the power under Section 319 of the Criminal procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC) cannot be exercised in a casual manner. Additional accused can be summoned, not based on mere suspicion but when there was strong and cogent evidence available against a person from the evidence produced before the Court, which could lead to his conviction.

The Bench of Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Rajesh Bindal referred to the law laid down by the Constitution bench in the case of Hardeep Singh and Ors. Vs. State of Punjab & Ors., (2014) 3 SCC 92 and said that on perusal of the evidence on record, the case does not go beyond suspicion as there was no eyewitness to the occurrence and the servant who was claimed to be the eyewitness, retracted from his statements under Section 164 of the Cr.PC.

“The aforesaid material was not sufficient if examined in the light of the law laid down by this Court for summoning of an additional accused in exercise of power under Section 319 of the Cr.P.C. to establish complicity of the appellant in the crime.” the Bench observed.

Advocate Sarvam Ritam Khare appeared for the appellant and Advocate Sarvesh Singh Baghel appeared for the respondent.

In this case, Criminal Revision preferred before the Allahabad High Court against the order of the Trial Court was quashed, and the matter was remitted back to the Trial Court for fresh examination. The deceased, brother of the complainant, used to work as a manager with the appellant’s firm and there was some dispute regarding money between the appellant and the deceased.

Based on it, an FIR was registered for offences of murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code,1860 (IPC) against unknown persons. Chargesheet was filed and the appellant was listed as a prosecution witness. After the appellant was examined as prosecution witness, the complainant moved application under Section 319 of the Cr.PC, to summon accused as an additional accused. The application was dismissed. This order of Trial Court had been assailed before the Apex Court.

The Apex Court observed that even the accused charged were acquitted by the Trial Court as the material produced on record was not even sufficient for conviction of those accused.

“After conclusion of the entire evidence and examination of the material produced on record even against the charged accused, the trial court had acquitted them vide judgment dated 15.03.2017. It shows that material produced on record was not even sufficient for conviction of the accused against whom chargesheet was filed.” said the Apex Court.

Further, the Apex Court regarding remanding the matter back to Trial Court, observed that "Remand in such a matter would only result in prolonging the litigation. “To avoid delay, it would have been proper exercise of power in case the High Court would have considered the material and opine as to whether a case was made out for summoning of additional accused.”

Accordingly, the appeal was allowed, the impugned order passed by the High Court was set aside and the application filed by the complainant for summoning the appellant as an additional accused was dismissed.

Cause Title- Vikas Rathi v. The State of U.P. & Anr.

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