Need higher degree of proof to summon additional accused after framing of charges, says HC
The court made it clear that while exercising powers under Section 319 of CrPC (summoning of additional accused) is not required or justified in appreciating the deposition/evidence of the prosecution witnesses on merits which is required to be done during the course of the trial
The Punjab and Haryana high court has said that in criminal case proceedings, an additional accused can only be summoned after framing of charges if the standard of proof against him is “slightly higher”.
“…the crucial test to be applied for the purposes of summoning of a prospective accused is that there must be more than a prima facie case as exercised at the time of framing of charge but short of satisfaction to an extent that the evidence, if it goes unrebutted would lead to conviction,” the bench of justice JS Bedi said adding that since charges already stand framed against the accused facing trial and therefore, the standard of proof for the purposes of summoning of an accused, who had been initially exonerated, ought to be “slightly higher”.
The court made it clear that while exercising powers under Section 319 of CrPC (summoning of additional accused) is not required or justified in appreciating the deposition/evidence of the prosecution witnesses on merits which is required to be done during the course of the trial.
In the case at hand, an 82-year-old man was allegedly assaulted by multiple persons. An FIR came to be registered at Ladwa police station in Kurukshetra on June 13, 2020. The senior citizen subsequently died but one of the persons named by him in his complaint was exonerated during the probe by the police. The son of the senior citizen, Ramesh Chand filed an application for summoning Rajpal as an additional accused even as charges had been framed against another person, Devender Singh. The said application was dismissed by the trial court.
It was against this order that the son had moved high court arguing that there were specific allegations against Rajpal in the initial complaint given by the deceased senior citizen and his name was deleted from the challan as he was a relative of a cop. If a prima facie case was made out and the evidence available on record was slightly more than that which is sufficient to frame charges, then Rajpal had to be summoned, it was submitted.
The court observed that the accused sought to be summoned had been duly named in the FIR and a specific role has been clearly attributed to him and the allegations are further substantiated with the medical evidence on record.
“The argument from the accused had been that he had been falsely implicated and the net had been - spread wider to implicate the other family members of the accused already facing trial cannot be considered at this stage because that would amount to stepping into the domain of appreciation of evidence which would be done only during the course of trial and not at this stage,” the court further recorded quashing the trial court order and summoning the accused to face trial.