Read Order: Nanda alias Nand Kumar v. State of Punjab and Another 

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, June 20, 2022: While dealing with Section 401 Cr.P.C. petitions filed by the relatives of the POCSO accused, challenging the Trial Court order whereby they were summoned as additional accused, the High Court of Punjab and Haryana has held that Section 319 of the Cr.P.C. confers an extraordinary power on the Court, which can be exercised at any stage before final conclusion of trial.

The Bench of Justice Suvir Sehgal upheld the Trial Court order as the petitioners were specifically named and attributed categorical role by the prosecutrix and that too consistently (i.e. during loading of the FIR, in her Section 164 Cr.P.C. statement and later in her examination-in-chief).

Vide the instant petitions under Section 401 Cr.P.C., the two petitioners challenged the same order whereby they were summoned as additional accused to face trial in an FIR registered under Section 376 IPC read with Section 4 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (“the POCSO Act”).

Essentially, in this case (as per the prosecution story) the prosecutrix was taken to Bathinda by the brother of the petitioners, on the pretext of marrying her but instead he allegedly sexually assaulted her. On the next day, the prosecutrix and the accused- Sanjeev were presented before the authorities. 

It was the case of the prosecutrix that she was coerced to stay away from her parents and was pressured by Sanjeev Kumar as well as his sister and a cousin (the present petitioners) into making a statement in their favour. 

The petitioners were eventually declared innocent by the Police during investigation and thus the final report under Section 173 of the Code was presented against Sanjeev Kumar alone, who was charge-sheeted and was facing trial. 

The present petitioners were named by the prosecutrix in her examination-in-chief and as a result an application under Section 319 of the Code was moved to summon them as additional accused. The Trial Court vide the impugned order, allowed the same. 

The petitioner’s counsel challenge the vires of the impugned on the ground that the present petitioners were summoned as additional accused as they were close relatives of the accused- Sanjeev Kumar and that they were deliberately named as the parents of the Sanjeev Kumar refused to accept the prosecutrix and take her home.

It was also contended that there were inconsistencies in the statement of the prosecutrix. Lastly, the Counsel added that the summoning order is not to be passed in a routine manner.

After considering the case as aforesaid, the Court expounded at the very outset that Section 319 of the Code confers an extraordinary power on the  Court, which can be exercised at any stage before final conclusion of trial.

Further, from a perusal of the final report the Court noted that the investigating agency gave a clean chit to both the summoned accused with a bald finding that they were found to be innocent without actually making any reference to any material used for arriving at this conclusion. 

On the other hand, it was noted by Justice Sehgal that the prosecutrix specifically named both the summoned accused in the FIR, in her statement under Section 164 of the Code, as well as in her  examination-in-chief. 

She categorically stated that both the  summoned accused were aware of the entire development and of the allurement given to her by the main accused, Sanjeev Kumar. She also stated that she was kept at a relative’s house at Aglor on the night  when she was sexually assaulted and that both the summoned accused intimidated her into  making a statement in their favour. A specific role was ascribed to both  the summoned accused by the minor prosecutrix. 

From the above, the Court evidently observed that strong and cogent material was present before the Court to prima facie form the opinion that the summoned accused deserved to be tried with the main accused,  who was facing trial.

Thus, the Court held that this case fell within the parameters of the Supreme Court decision in Manjeet Singh versus State of Haryana which laid down the guidelines for the exercise of  the power to summon additional accused. 

Accordingly, the petitions were dismissed. 

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