SC fiat on summoning of accused in criminal cases
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held
that summoning of accused persons cannot be withheld merely on
the ground that it will hurt the interests of other accused
who are "well-known" or just because the witnesses are related
to the complainant.
A bench of Justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha in an
order ticked off a trial court for refusing to summon certain
accused merely because they were "well-known persons" and the
Karnataka High Court for refusing the plea because of certain
The apex court passed the order while upholding an
appeal filed by the complainant Bangarayya in a criminal case
challenging the refusal of the two courts to summon additional
witnesses during the trial.
On a complaint filed on September 1, 2002, a case was
registered against 17 persons, but police, after
investigation, submitted chargesheets against only 14
persons under IPC Sections 143, 147, 149 (unlawful assembly),
323 (causing hurt), 427(damage to property), 504 (breach of
public peace)and 506 (criminal intimidation). No chargesheet
was filed against accused Nos 2, 3 and 6 named in the FIR.
The complainant filed an application under Section 319
CrPC for summoning of the three other accused. The State also
also supported the plea for summoning of the three accused.
However, the trial court rejected the plea by taking
the view that the two witnesses were related to the
complainant and no independent witness had been examined
The trial court observed that it would further delay
the matter as some of the other accused were "teachers and
well-known persons" and they would suffer due to the delay
caused by summoning the additional accused.
Aggrieved by the decision, the complainant approached
the High Court which dismissed his plea by citing delay in
filing of the application following which he appealed in the
Rejecting the reasonings, the apex court said the two
witnesses were examined on August 24, 2007 and February 2,
2008 respectively and the application for summoning three
other accused was filed on March 6, 2008.
"We are unable to see where was the delay. In those
facts it is quite unreasonable to hold that the application
was made after long delay and was, therefore, liable to be
"The reason assigned by the trial court is equally
untenable. The two witnesses being related to the complainant
or the accused already before the court, being 'teachers and
well-known persons' can be no ground to reject the petition
under section 319 of the Code for summoning some other
persons as well for facing the trial," the apex court
It directed the trial court to consider afresh the
plea for summoning of the additional accused.