Mere Disclosure Of Names By Some Witnesses During Trial Not Enough To Add Persons Not Named In FIR As Additional Accused: SC [Read Judgment]

Mere Disclosure Of Names By Some Witnesses During Trial Not Enough To Add Persons Not Named In FIR As Additional Accused: SC [Read Judgment]

“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 Supreme Court has observed that mere disclosure of the names of some persons by the witnesses during trial cannot be said to be strong and cogent evidence to summon them under Section 319 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

In the complaint filed by S. Nallasamy, it was alleged that his In Laws, wife and other relatives (15 women and 35 men) came by vehicles and forcibly entered his house and scolded him. An FIR was registered against some accused under Sections 147, 448, 294(b) and 506 of Indian Penal Code.

During the trial, the prosecution filed an application was filed under Section 319 of the Code to summon the 20 accused persons (including Periyasami) named in the application as additional accused. The Magistrate declined to summon them on the ground that the names of the proposed accused were not disclosed in the First Information Report nor came to light during investigation. It was also noted that their names were not mentioned in FIR and none of the witnesses named them during the course of investigation. The High court allowed the revision petition observing that witnesses have named them during deposition in the Trial.

In the appeal filed by these persons, the Apex court bench comprising Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Hemant Gupta noted that the case is basically a matrimonial dispute wherein, the husband who is the Complainant has levelled allegations against the wife and her other family members. The court reiterated that, 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. It said:

"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.. In the First Information Report or in the statements recorded under Section 161 of the Code, the names of the appellants or any other description have not been given so as to identify them. The allegations in the FIR are vague and can be used any time to include any person in the absence of description in the First Information Report to identify such person. There is no assertion in respect of the villages to which the additional accused belong. Therefore, there is no strong or cogent evidence to make the appellants stand the trial for the offences under Sections 147, 448, 294(b) and 506 of IPC in view of the judgment in Hardeep Singh case (supra)."

The court added that additional accused cannot be summoned under Section 319 of the Code in casual and cavalier manner in the absence of strong and cogent evidence. Setting aside the High Court order, the bench observed:

"The High Court has set aside the order passed by the learned Magistrate only on the basis of the statements of some of the witnesses examined by the Complainant. 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, especially when the Complainant is a husband and has initiated criminal proceedings against family of his in-laws and when their names or other identity were not disclosed at the first opportunity."

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