Tuesday, January, 31,2023

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Section 319 CrPC can be exercised before acquittal or sentence: SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday held that Section 319 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which deals power to summon persons, can be invoked before the pronouncement of the order of either acquittal or before sentence in case of conviction of the case.

"The power under Section 319 of CrPC is to be invoked and exercised before the pronouncement of the order of sentence where there is a judgment of conviction of the accused. In the case of acquittal, the power should be exercised before the order of acquittal is pronounced," a constitution bench said.

Hence, the summoning order has to precede the conclusion of trial by the imposition of sentence in the case of conviction. If the order is passed on the same day, it will have to be examined on the facts and circumstances of each case and if such summoning order is passed either after the order of acquittal or imposing sentence in the case of conviction, the same will not be sustainable," the court said.

The order was passed by the five-judge bench of Justices S Abdul Nazeer, BR Gavai, AS Bopanna, V Ramasubramanian and BV Nagarathna.

The court was dealing with whether the trial court has the power under Section 319 of CrPC to summon additional accused when the trial with respect to other coaccused has ended and the judgment of conviction rendered on the same date before pronouncing the summoning order.
The Court also dealt with the issue whether the trial court has the power under Section 319 of the CrPC to summon additional accused when the trial in respect of certain other absconding accused (whose presence is subsequently secured) is ongoing/pending, having been bifurcated from the main trial.

The court held that the trial court has the power to summon additional accused when the trial proceeded in respect of the absconding accused after securing his presence, subject to the evidence recorded in the split-up (bifurcated) trial pointing to the involvement of the accused sought to be summoned. But the evidence recorded in the main concluded trial cannot be the basis of the summoning order if such power has not been exercised in the main trial till its conclusion.
Section 319 of CrPC gives trial courts the power to summon persons other than the accused if it appears to the trial court that such persons have committed an offence in that case.

The court appreciated for the assistance rendered by all the counsel including Senior Advocate S Nagamuthu, who assisted the Court as an Amicus Curiae. For the petitioner, Senior Advocate PS Patwalia, whereas for the respondents ASG SV Raju, advocate Vinod Ghai and Ardhendumouli Kumar Prasad appeared while for Intervenor, counsel Ashish Dixit appeared in the matter. (ANI)

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