Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In case where a man tried to rope in other relatives of his wife in a criminal proceeding that he had initiated against his in-laws, the bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta, JJ held that mere disclosing the names of the appellants cannot be said to be strong and cogent evidence to make them to stand trial for the offence under Section 319 of the Code.

Factual Background:

  • The complainant had alleged that his wife lived with her parents, despite several attempts on his part to bring her with him and that his mother-in-law, father-in-law and brother-in-law threatened that their daughter will not live with him and demanded Rs. 30 lakhs towards maintenance otherwise they will lodge a dowry case against him and his mother.
  • He filed the criminal case against his in-laws and other relatives of his wife after his in-laws, along with 47 other relatives, forcibly entered his house and threatened to kill him if he did not pay Rs. 30 lakhs. They also tried to attack him with sickles and sticks.
  • Though in the FIR, Complainant had mentioned that 15 women and 35 men came by vehicles but the names of 11 persons alone were disclosed in the FIR.
  • He then filed an application under Section 319 of the Code to summon the 20 accused persons named in the application as additional accused.

Ruling:

The Court noticed that the present case was basically a matrimonial dispute wherein, the husband who is the Complainant has levelled allegations against the wife and her other family members. In the statements recorded under Section 161 of the Code during the course of investigation, the Complainant and his witnesses have not disclosed any other name except the 11 persons named in the FIR. Thus, the Court said:

“the Complainant has sought to cast net wide so as to include numerous other persons while moving an application under Section 319 of the Code without there being primary evidence about their role in house trespass or of threatening the Complainant. Large number of people will not come to the house of the Complainant and would return without causing any injury as they were said to be armed with weapons like crowbar, knife and ripper etc.”

The Court also noted that the allegations in the FIR were vague and could be used any time to include any person in the absence of description in the First Information Report to identify such person. Stating that the additional accused cannot be summoned under Section 319 of the Code in casual and cavalier manner in the absence of strong and cogent evidence, the Court said:

“Under Section 319 of the Code additional accused can be summoned only if there is more than prima facie case as is required at the time of framing of charge but which is less than the satisfaction required at the time of conclusion of the trial convicting the accused.”

[Periyasami v. S. Nallasamy, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 379, decided on 14.03.2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In an appeal filed against the decision of the Allahabad High Court where it had rejected the application under Section 391 Cr.P.C on the ground that the additional evidence was filed with malafide intentions for delaying the decision of the appeal, the bench of Ashok Bhushan and KM Joseph, JJ said:

“When Statute grants right to appeal to an accused, he has right to take all steps and take benefit of all powers of the Appellate Court in the ends of the justice. In a criminal case Appellate Court has to consider as to whether conviction of the accused is sustainable or the appellant has made out a case for acquittal. The endeavour of all Courts has to reach to truth and justice.”

Present is the case where the appellant was convicted by a trail court on 07.10.2013 for cheating the complainant with regard to sale of agricultural land of the trust. He had produced a photocopy of the Trust Deed before the trial court, however, it was not proved.  On 08.10.2013, he appealed before the High Court and filed an application before the court to accept the certified copy of the Trust Deed and the Resolution and permit the appellant to lead evidence. The High Court, however, rejected the application and observed that the application was filed with some ulterior malafide motive.

Not agreeing with the view of the High Court, the bench of Ashok Bhushan and KM Joseph, JJ said:

“Filing of the application before the High Court to accept the certified copy of the Trust Deed and the Resolution and permit the appellant to lead evidence can in no manner be said to be malafide motive of the accused, who had been convicted in the appeal, has right to take all the grounds and also lead additional evidence, which in accordance with the Appellate Court is necessary in deciding the appeal.”

On the observation of the High Court that the application to take additional evidence at the appellate stage was filed by appellant for delaying the decision of the appeal to eternity, the bench said:

“when prosecution took twelve years’ time in leading evidence before the trial court and the judgment by trial court was delivered on 07.10.2013, the appeal was filed on 08.10.2013, how can appellant be castigated with the allegation that he intended to delay the appeal to eternity.”

It was noticed that trust Deed and the Resolution, which are foundation and basis for the start of the process of the sale of the land, were documents which ought to have been permitted to be proved to arrive at any conclusion to find out the criminal intent, if any, on the part of the appellant. The Court, hence, held that the High Court had failed to exercise its jurisdiction under Section 391 Cr.P.C. and has committed error in rejecting the applications under Section 391 Cr.P.C.

[Brig. Sukhjeet Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 72, decided on 24.01.2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: The Bench of Sanjeev Sachdeva, J. without expressing any opinion on merits of the case, directed the trial court to relook at the evidence in order to ascertain whether any ground is made out under Section 319 CrPC to summon any person other than the accused.

Petitioner (accused) had filed an application under Section 319 which gives power to the trial court to proceed against any other person appearing to be guilty of offence. Application was for proceeding against one Ranbir Khatri, Suman, Sahab Singh and Balwan Singh. Petitioner was represented by K. Singhal and Shilpa Goel, Advocates who contended that there was sufficient evidence available on record to show that these persons had committed the offence in the present case. Several submissions were made to show that they were liable to be summoned in the case. Furthermore, it was submitted that the petitioner was innocent and had been falsely implicated. However, the trial court rejected petitioner’s application. Aggrieved thereby, he filed the present revision petition.

The High Court noted that the impugned order was very cryptic and did not advert to any of the allegations raised or submissions made by the petitioner. Notice was also taken of the fact that prosecution as well as defence evidence was over and matter was at final stage of hearing before the trial court. In High Court’s opinion there was need to relook at evidence by the trial court as mentioned above. Therefore, the impugned order was set aside and the matter was remitted back to the trial court. [Pardeep Kumar v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Del 6497, dated 14-01-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Bench of Mangesh S. Patil, J. dismissed a revision petition filed against the order of Additional Sessions Judge rejecting petitioner’s application under Section 319 CrPC for adding husband and in-laws of the deceased co-accused.

Petitioner was the father of the deceased– Sumitra. Sumitra was found murdered with a bullet injury on her head. An FIR was lodged and criminal law was set into motion. It was alleged that Sumitra came to know about the illicit relationship between her sister-in-law and brother-in-law Vilas as a consequence of which he murdered Sumitra. At the conclusion of the investigation, Vilas was chargesheeted in the crime. The petitioner was examined as the first witness. It was thereafter, that he submitted an application under Section 319 CrPC to array Sumitra’s husband and in-laws as co-accused. The application was rejected by the trial Judge. Aggrieved thereby, the petitioner was before the High Court.

K.H. Surve, Advocate for the husband and in-laws submitted that petitioner moved the application without any basis relying on whatever material was collected by the Investigating Officer.

The High Court stated, “power under Section 319 is to be invoked under special circumstances where during the course of trial some additional evidence comes on record which reveals involvement of some more persons in commission of the crime.” Referring to Hardeep Singh v. State of Punjab, (2014) 3 SCC 92, the Court observed that power under Section 319 can be exercised by trial court at any stage of the trial provided there is some “evidence” which is interpreted to mean material brought before the court during the trial. Material collected by IO during inquiry can be utilised to corroborate such evidence. In the present case, no such additional material or evidence came on record during the trial so as to reveal complicity of husband and in-laws in the crime. Resultantly, the petition was dismissed. [Vishwambhar v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 9, dated 03-01-2019]