Read Order: Manohar Singh v. State of Punjab and Another

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, June 2, 2022:  The Punjab and Haryana High Court has recently held that once the investigation is not carried out in a proper manner and an attempt is made by the concerned police officials to shield the accused by declaring him innocent, then the Trial Court is always justified in exercising the power under Section 319 Cr.P.C., if the evidence on record suggests involvement of the said accused in the alleged occurrence and commission of crime. 

The Bench of Justice Manoj Bajaj also asserted that Section 319 CrPC vests extra ordinary power with the trial Court, thereby empowering it to exercise this power to summon any other person as an accused, who has not been sent to face trial, but at the same time, such power can be exercised only on the strength of strong evidence indicating involvement of the said person in the commission of the offence.

The Court was dealing with a petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C for quashing of an FIR registered under Sections 307, 326, 324, 323, 148 and 149 Indian Penal Code, 1860. Under challege was also the order whereby trial Court summoned the petitioner as an additional accused by exercising power under Section 319 Cr.P.C.

After completion of investigation in the case, final report under Section 173 (2) Cr.P.C. was submitted before the trial Court indicting total eight accused persons, whereas five persons including the petitioner were declared innocent. But after commencement of trial and upon examination of complainant, an application under Section 319 Cr.P.C was filed through public prosecutor, whereupon the trial Court summoned the said five accused (including the petitioner) as additional accused.

Hence this petition was filed. 

It was the case of the petitioner’s counsel that the trial Court erroneously exercised the jurisdiction under Section 319 Cr.P.C as the petitioner was not present in the town, much less at the place of occurrence It was further pointed out by counsel that in the alleged occurrence two accused persons, namely, Arjun and Mandeep also suffered injuries and a cross case was also set up.

On the contrary, discarding the plea of alibi, the State Counsel argued that the investigation was not conducted properly because of the influence of the petitioner who managed to get a favourable report from the Inquiry Officer by submitting his representation in respect of his innocence and that his plea of alibi was wrongly accepted by the Investigating officer also.

According to him, whenever an accused relies upon plea of alibi, the onus is to be discharged by him by leading cogent evidence and he submitted that the trial Court carefully examined the facts and circumstances of this case and rightly exercised the jurisdiction by summoning all the accused persons. He further pointed out that the other four co-accused persons, who were summoned along with the petitioner already joined the trial proceedings, whereas the proceedings were stayed only in respect of the petitioner. 

During the hearing, it was conceded by the petitioner’s counsel that the final report under Section 173 (2) Cr.P.C with regard to the petitioner was based upon conclusion of an inquiry report by Superintendent of Police (Investigation) Gurdaspur. 

The Court, at the very outset observed that the entire case of the petitioner/accused was founded upon the inquiry report of Superintendent of Police, Gurdaspur who accepted the plea of alibi of the petitioner and the other four accused persons. In this regard, the Court further added, from the perusal of the said report of the IO, that the conclusion of the IO was based upon the discreet and open investigation allegedly conducted by him and the same was followed by the SHO while filing the final report under Section 173(2) Cr.P.C. 

Thus, the Court observed, from the above-mentioned facts that the investigation qua the petitioner and others was not conducted in accordance with law much less by the Investigating Officer, who simply proceeded to follow the directions issued by his superior officers.

Additionally, the Court stated that the petitioner, who was armed with sharp edged weapon and allegedly inflicted injuries to injured Pal Singh on his forehead, was named in the FIR. 

Thus, against this backdrop, it was opined by the Court that once the investigation is not carried out in a proper manner and an attempt is made by the concerned police official(s) to shield the accused by declaring him innocent, the trial Court is always justified in exercising the power under Section 319 Cr.P.C., if the evidence on record suggests involvement of the said accused in the alleged occurrence and commission of crime. 

Justice Bajaj also asserted that Section 319 Cr.P.C vests extra ordinary power with the trial Court, thereby empowering it to exercise this power to summon any other person as an accused, who has not been sent to face trial, but at the same time, such power can be exercised only on the strength of strong evidence indicating involvement of the said person in the commission of the offence.

Further, from a perusal of the impugned order, the Court held that the trial Court carefully examined the material on record and have valid reason for exercising the power, therefore, the Court did not find any illegality and impropriety in the said order. 

Apart from it, the Court also noted that instead of filing revision, the petitioner filed the present petition by invoking inherent powers under Section 482 Cr.P.C seeking quashing of the FIR as well, but during the course of hearing, no such argument relating to the quashing of FIR was addressed by the counsel. 

Resultantly, the Court dismissed the present application. 

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