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STRONGER EVIDENCE REQUIRED TO ADD ADDITIONAL ACCUSED UNDER SECTION 319: Supreme Court

Team SoOLEGAL 19 Mar 2019 10:59am

STRONGER EVIDENCE REQUIRED TO ADD ADDITIONAL ACCUSED UNDER SECTION 319: Supreme Court

In Sugreev Kumar vs. State of Punjab, Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari set aside an order of High Court of Punjab and Haryana and observed that at the time of invoking Section 319 of CrPC, the Courts must not proceed against the accused persons. The Court referred to the Constitution bench judgment in Hardeep Singh and said that the main objective of section 319 is to punish the real culprit. Thus, if the evidence indicate that an offence is committed by such person for which he could be tried together with the other accused persons, then it empowers the Court to Constitution bench judgment in Hardeep Singh

The test to be applied while considering an application to add a person as additional accused was explained by the bench as follows:

"The provisions contained in Section 319 CrPC sanction the summoning of any person on the basis of any relevant evidence as available on record. However, it being a discretionary power and an extraordinary one, is to be exercised sparingly and only when cogent evidence is available. The prime facie opinion which is to be formed for exercise of this power requires stronger evidence than mere probability of complicity of a person. The test to be applied is the one which is more than a prime facie case as examined at the time of framing charge but not of satisfaction to the extent that the evidence, if goes uncontroverted, would lead to the conviction of the accused." 

The Apex court has reiterated that in order to add a person as accused under Section 319, mere probability of involvement of that person are not enough. More stronger evidence is required.

The Trial Court was directed to reconsider the prayer of prosecution for proceeding against the proposed accused persons afresh.

The orders of Trial court and the High court were set aside in the present case by holding:

"We are of the view that the consideration of the application under Section 319 CrPC in the orders impugned had been as if the existence of a case beyond reasonable doubt was being examined against the proposed accused persons. In other words, the Trial Court and the High Court have proceeded as if an infallible case was required to be shown by the prosecution in order to proceed against the proposed accused persons. That had clearly been an erroneous approach towards the prayer for proceeding against a person with reference to the evidence available on record."



Tagged: JusticeAbhayManoharSapre   JusticeDineshMaheshwari   SupremeCourt   Section319   CodeOfCriminalProcedure   CrPC  
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