Supreme Court: The 3-Judge Bench comprising of Ashok Bhushan*, R. Subhash Reddy and M.R. Shah allowed the instant appeal against the order of High Court of Uttrakhand regarding summon issued under S. 319 of CrPC. The Bench said,

“Order dated 18-09-2019 by which the Trial Court has directed appearance of the accused-appellant is to be taken to its logical end but that order cannot provide a shield of protection to earlier order dated 17-08-2019 by which appellant has been summoned.”

The appellant was made an accused under Ss. 147, 148, 149, 323, 324, 307, 452, 504 and 506 of IPC along with six other accused. Police, after carrying out investigation submitted a charge-sheet exonerating the appellant. During trial, the informant was examined as PW-1. In his Statement, the informant implicated all accused including the appellant but no specific role was assigned to the appellant.

An application under S. 319 CrPC was filed by the informant before the Sessions Judge praying that appellant be also summoned in the case. The Trial Court rejected the said application, pursuant to which the applicant approached the High Court by revision appeal to take actions against the appellant. The High Court, while relying on Rajesh v.State of Haryana, (2019) 6 SCC 368, remitted the matter back to the Trial Court and directed that the application under Section 319 CrPC to should be considered afresh.

Pursuant to the order of the High Court, the Trial Court allowed the application and summoned the appellants by Order dated 17-08-2019. On non-appearance of the appellant, the Trial Court had issued non-bailable warrant to the appellant and a notice under S. 446 CrPC was also issued.

The appellant filed Criminal Revision before the High Court against the order dated 17-08-2019 which was dismissed by the High Court on the ground that since the proceeding in pursuance to allowing the application under Section 319 CrPC had already been initiated, revision appeal could not be entertained.

In Hardeep Singh versus State of Punjab, (2014) 3 SCC 92, the Constitution Bench had elaborately considered all contours of Section 319 CrPC. The Court had held,

power under S. 319 CrPC is a discretionary and extra-ordinary power which has to be exercised sparingly. It is not to be exercised because the Magistrate or the Sessions Judge is of the opinion that some other person may also be guilty of committing that offence. Only where strong and cogent evidence occurs against a person from the evidence led before the Court that such power should be exercised and not in a casual and cavalier manner.”

Hence, the Bench opined that the High Court had completely erred in holding that since the proceedings in pursuance of Section 319 CrPC had already been initiated, no simultaneous challenge to the impugned order dated 17-08-2019 summoning the revisionists under Section 319 CrPC would be tenable before the High Court till the order dated 18-09-2019 subsist. The Bench held that,

“Subsequent proceedings, in no manner could be a ground to not consider the correctness and validity of order dated 17-08-2019 and when it is found that order dated 17-08-2019 could not have been passed in exercise of jurisdiction under S. 319 CrPC, all subsequent proceedings thereto shall automatically come to an end.”

Therefore, the order of the High Court was held to unsustainable and deserving to be set aside. The High Court was directed to consider the Criminal Revision afresh.

[Ajay Kumar v. State of Uttarakhand,  2021 SCC OnLine SC 48, decided on 29-01-2021]

Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

*Judgment by: Justice Ashok Bhushan

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