The Supreme Court reiterated that under Section 319 of the CrPC the degree of satisfaction required, to see whether a prima facie case is made out to proceed against the Accused, is much stricter.

The Court allowed a Criminal Appeal against the order of the High Court whereby the order of the Trial Court to proceed against the Appellants under section 319 CrPC was confirmed. The Court emphasized that the evidence of said witnesses was insufficient to meet the standards of a prima facie case laid down under Section 319 of the Criminal Procedure Code(CrPC).

The Bench comprising Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Pankaj Mithal observed, “Evidence of said witnesses is insufficient to meet the standards of a prima facie case laid down by the Constitution Bench. No other evidence is relied upon by the respondents to support the application under Section 319”.

Senior Advocate Siddharth Dave appeared for the Appellant and Advocate Anand Shankar appeared for the Respondents.

A Complainant lodged an FIR regarding assault upon his father and mother by the Appellants and four others with iron rods. Both his parents allegedly sustained injuries and his father passed away. A chargesheet was filed but the Appellants were not named. However, the Trial Court took cognizance of the offences against the Appellant by exercising power under Section 319 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

The High Court remanded the application by granting liberty to the Trial Court to pass an appropriate order. The Trial Court after that passed an order against the Appellants under Section 319 of the CrPC, which the High Court confirmed. The Appellant preferred a Revision Application before the High Court to challenge the order but was dismissed. Aggrieved, the Appellant approached the Court by way of a Criminal Appeal.

The Court noted that the High Court had set aside the order passed by Section 319 of the CrPC to get the evidence recorded as the Court opined that unless the evidence of other prosecution witnesses (eyewitnesses) is recorded, the application under Section 319 Cr.P.C. cannot be considered. The Bench placed reliance on the case of Hardeep Singh v State of Punjab [(2014) 3 SCC 92] and reiterated that under Section 319 CrPC, though the test of prima facie case is the same, the degree of satisfaction required is much stricter. Therefore, the Bench held that the evidence of the said witness was insufficient to meet the standards laid down by the Hardeep Singh (Supra) case.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the Appeal, set aside the impugned orders, and dismissed the Application under Section 319 CrPC.

Cause Title: Aarif & Ors. v The State Of Rajasthan & Anr. (2023 INSC 947)

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