SC| Can’t summon additional accused under Section 319 CrPC in the absence of strong and cogent evidence

Supreme Court: In case where a man tried to rope in other relatives of his wife in a criminal proceeding that he had initiated against his in-laws, the bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta, JJ held that mere disclosing the names of the appellants cannot be said to be strong and cogent evidence to make them to stand trial for the offence under Section 319 of the Code.

Factual Background:

  • The complainant had alleged that his wife lived with her parents, despite several attempts on his part to bring her with him and that his mother-in-law, father-in-law and brother-in-law threatened that their daughter will not live with him and demanded Rs. 30 lakhs towards maintenance otherwise they will lodge a dowry case against him and his mother.
  • He filed the criminal case against his in-laws and other relatives of his wife after his in-laws, along with 47 other relatives, forcibly entered his house and threatened to kill him if he did not pay Rs. 30 lakhs. They also tried to attack him with sickles and sticks.
  • Though in the FIR, Complainant had mentioned that 15 women and 35 men came by vehicles but the names of 11 persons alone were disclosed in the FIR.
  • He then filed an application under Section 319 of the Code to summon the 20 accused persons named in the application as additional accused.

Ruling:

The Court noticed that the present case was basically a matrimonial dispute wherein, the husband who is the Complainant has levelled allegations against the wife and her other family members. In the statements recorded under Section 161 of the Code during the course of investigation, the Complainant and his witnesses have not disclosed any other name except the 11 persons named in the FIR. Thus, the Court said:

“the Complainant has sought to cast net wide so as to include numerous other persons while moving an application under Section 319 of the Code without there being primary evidence about their role in house trespass or of threatening the Complainant. Large number of people will not come to the house of the Complainant and would return without causing any injury as they were said to be armed with weapons like crowbar, knife and ripper etc.”

The Court also noted that the allegations in the FIR were vague and could be used any time to include any person in the absence of description in the First Information Report to identify such person. Stating that the additional accused cannot be summoned under Section 319 of the Code in casual and cavalier manner in the absence of strong and cogent evidence, the Court said:

“Under Section 319 of the Code additional accused can be summoned only if there is more than prima facie case as is required at the time of framing of charge but which is less than the satisfaction required at the time of conclusion of the trial convicting the accused.”

[Periyasami v. S. Nallasamy, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 379, decided on 14.03.2019]

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