September 18, 2021:- According to section 319 of Code of Criminal Procedure, court has the power to proceed against other persons appearing to be guilty of offence.
Now the question is, can a Court summons other persons in a "casual and cavalier manner"? Supreme Court explains the power to summon in a recent case of Ramesh Chandra Srivastava V. State of UP. This case was related to murder. Trial Court summoned the employer of the deceased by noting the testimony of a witness in the murder case and allowed the application filed under section 319 of CrPC. The employer challenged the order of summons in high court. But High court upheld the order of the Trial court. The appellant argued before Supreme court that the court had erred in enforcing the law under section 319 of CrPC only on the basis of the witness's statement.
The Supreme court has observed that the power to summon under section 319 of CrPC should be exercised only when "strong and cogent evidence" occurs against a person from the evidence. A bench of Justice KM Joseph and PS Narasimha reiterated that power under section 319 of CrPC cannot be exercised in a "casual and cavalier manner". The bench also added that the test will be applied is one which is more than prima facie case which is applied during the formation of the charge. And also the bench has referred the Judgements of the cases in Hardeep Singh V. State of Punjab (2014) 3 SCC 92 and Labhuji Amratji Thakor V. State of Gujrat AIR 2019 SC 734.
The Supreme Court said regarding the exercise of power under section 319 of CrPC, " The test as laid down by the Constitution Bench of this Court for invoking power under Section 319 CrPC inter alia includes the principle that only when strong and cogent evidence occurs against a person from the evidence the power under Section 319 CrPC should be exercised. The power cannot be exercised in a casual and cavalier manner. The test to be applied, as laid down by this Court, is one which is more than prima facie case which is applied at the time of framing of charges".
The bench, therefore, allowed the appeal and directed the Judicial Court to reconsider the matter in the light of the above policy.
TIASHA SINHA RAY
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