Summoning Accused u/S 319 of CrPC Requires Stronger Evidence and Stringent Tests- Supreme Court

February 28, 2019

The Two-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court in the instant case got an opportunity to expound the law as enumerated under Section 319 of CrPC and noted that a person can be added as an accused not only for the same offence for which the accused is tried but for “any offence”; but that offence shall be such that in respect of which all the accused could be–––– tried together.

Case Name: Sunil Kumar Gupta & ors. v. State of Uttar Pradesh & ors.

Brief Facts of the case: The present appeal assails High Court’s order, whereby the Court summoning the appellants under Section 319 CrPC. for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC.

The complaint in the case pertained to dowry death, wherein the deceased’s husband and in-laws were roped in. The deceased in her dying declaration while accusing the appellants specifically named one of her in-laws namely, Chanchal. Accordingly, on completion of investigation, charge sheet was filed against for offence punishable under Section 302 IPC i.e. murder. Later an application was filed under Section 319 of CrPC seeking to summon the appellants/accused for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC stating that their names were mentioned in the FIR and also in the evidence of prosecution witness. Subsequently, the High Court allowed prosecution’s application under Section 319 of CrPC and ordered issuance of summons to the appellants for trial under Section 302 IPC.

What does Section 319 pf CrPC say?

Section 319(1) CrPC empowers the Court to proceed against any person not shown as an accused if it appears from the evidence that such person has committed any offence for which such person could be tried together along with the accused.

Also read Court Empowered u/Section 319 CrPC to proceed against any Person not named in FIR/Charge Sheet- Supreme Court

Bench’s Verdict

The Two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court in view of the fact and circumstances of the case and law prevailing on the subject set aside the High Court’s order and made the following observations in the case:

That before the court exercises its jurisdiction in terms of Section 319 of CrPC it must arrive at satisfaction that the evidence adduced by the prosecution, if unrebutted, would lead to conviction of the persons sought to be added as the accused in the case.

That for summoning an accused under Section 319 of CrPC it requires much stronger evidence than mere probability of his complicity.

While referring to Supreme Court’s observation in the case of Sarabji Singh and anr. v. State of Punjab & anr.[1], the Apex Court in this case reiterated that for exercising jurisdiction and its discretion in terms of Section 319 of CrPC the courts are required to apply stringent tests.

Thus, by applying the above settled legal principles to the case in hand, the Supreme Court opined that there was no prima facie case made out for summoning the appellants and to proceed against the appellants for the offence punishable under Section 302 IPC. The Court while arriving at it’s decision also noted that the deceased in her dying declaration had only mentioned the name of Chanchal and had not stated the names of the appellants nor attributed any overt act.

While elucidating on the law, the Supreme Court has held in the case that under Section 319 of CrPC, a person can be added as an accused invoking the provisions not only for the same offence for which the accused is tried but for “any offence”; but that offence shall be such that in respect of which all the accused could be–––– tried together.

The entire case can be accessed here.

[1] (2009) 16 SCC 46