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Trial courts' power to summon additional accused: SC reserves verdict

Trial courts power to summon additional accused: SC reserves verdict

New Delhi: Regarding the powers of a lower court on summoning additional accused even after having decided a criminal case against the others involved, the Supreme Court on Thursday reserved a verdict, PTI reported.

A five-judge SC bench led by Justice S A Nazeer heard the submissions on the matter by Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, amicus curiae S Nagamuthu and others before the move.

The bench, also carried by justices B R Gavai, A S Bopanna, V Ramasubramanian and B V Nagarathna, said, "Arguments heard, Judgment reserved."

The top court had in 2019 framed three questions of law on the scope and ambit of section 319 (power to proceed against other persons appearing to be guilty of an offence) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and referred the matter to a larger bench for adjudication.

The three issues framed by the bench included whether the trial court has the power under section 319 of CrPC to summon additional accused when the trial with respect to other co-accused has ended and the verdict of conviction rendered on the same date before pronouncing the summoning order.

While posting the matter to a larger bench, the SC observed the power under section 319 of CrPC being extraordinary in nature, and the trial courts must be cautious while summoning the accused to avoid complexities and ensure a fair trial.

The matter came before the top court for adjudication after a plea filed by then Leader of Opposition in the Punjab assembly Sukhpal Singh Khaira challenging the Punjab and Haryana High Court order dismissing his plea to quash summons in a 2015 trans-border drug smuggling case.

A Fazilka court had summoned Khaira to appear before it in the case. There, while the trial was going on against ten accused in the narcotics case, the prosecution had filed an application for summoning five additional accused, including him. In December 2017, the Supreme Court stayed the trial court proceedings.

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TAGS:Supreme Court law Crpc 
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