Judicial Updates -
Supreme Court - Under Section 319 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, the merits of the trial have to be appreciated during the Trial.
In the matter of Sandeep Kumar v. State of Haryana & Anr. [Criminal Appeal No. 2195 of 2023 (Arising Out of SLP (CRL) NO.6537 of 2022)], the Appellant served as both the informant and a prosecution witness in the Sessions Trial. The incident unfolded when, during the nocturnal hours, a group of 15 individuals arrived at the Appellant's residence with the intent to assault its occupants. Subsequently, the Appellant lodged an FIR and implicated seven individuals. However, the chargesheet, which encompassed 9 accused individuals, omitted three names that had been initially mentioned in the FIR. In response, the Appellant expeditiously invoked section 319 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, to request the summoning of these absent accused individuals. The Sessions Court acceded to this application.
Dissatisfied with this development, Respondent No. 2 lodged a Revision Petition before the High Court. Consequently, the High Court nullified the Sessions Court's order. In reaction to the High Court's decision, the Appellant, aggrieved by this outcome, lodged an appeal before the Supreme Court.
In the appeal, the Supreme Court observed "The reasoning given by the High Court, cannot be accepted at the stage of consideration of application under Section 319 CRPC. The merits of the evidence has to be appreciated only during the trial, by cross examination of the witnesses and scrutiny of the Court. This is not to be done at the stage of Section 319, though this is precisely what the High Court has done in the present case. Moreover, the High Court did not appreciate the important fact that the charges being faced by the accused were under Sections 458, 460, 323, 285, 302, 148 and 149 of IPC."
The Court furthermore added, "The entire purpose of criminal trial is to go to the truth of the matter. Once there is satisfaction of the Court that there is evidence before it that an accused has committed an offence, the court can proceed against such a person. At the stage of summoning an accused, there has to be a prima facie satisfaction of the Court. The evidence which was there before the Court was of an eye witness who has clearly stated before the Court that a crime has been committed, inter alia, by the revisionist. The Court need not cross-examine this witness. It can stop the trial at that stage itself if such application had been moved under Section 319. The detail examination of the witness and other witnesses is a subject matter of the trial which has to begin afresh."
Thus, the Supreme Court set aside the order of the High Court and restored the order of the Sessions Court.