Supreme Court Judgment : Even if police give clean chit,accused can be prosecuted . 13th Nov 09.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has held that a person can be prosecuted by courts even if the police give him or her a clean chit by claiming there is no evidence against the accused.
Interpreting section 319 of the CrPC, a bench of Justices R V Raveendran and G S Singhvi said the proviso empowers the court to summon any person for facing the trial even though the police may claim that there is no evidence to nail the accused.
"Section 319 CrPC applies to all the courts, including the Sessions Court. It empowers the court to add any person, not being the accused before it, but against whom there appears during trial sufficient evidence indicating his involvement in the offence, as an accused and direct him to be tried along with other accused.
"If such a person is not attending the Court, he can be arrested or summoned. If he is attending the Court, although not under arrest or upon a summons, he can be detained by such Court for the purpose of inquiry into, or trial of the offence which he appears to have committed," the bench said in a judgement.
The apex court passed the judgement while dismissing the appeal by a woman summoned in a dowry case by a Rajasthan court even though the police claimed there was no evidence against her as the alleged victim Anita lived in Sriganganagar district whereas the accused sister-in-law Suman lived in Bikaner district.
Anita had lodged cases of harassment against her husband Pramod Kumar, mother-in-law Rukmani Devi and father-in-law Ram Kumar besides sister-in-las Suman under IPC sections 406 (criminal breach of trust) 498A(harassment), 354 (outraging modesty) 377 (unnatrual offences) and 323 (causing hurt).
The Jawaharnagar police in Sriganganagar district had filed the chargesheet on January 4, 2003, against the husband and parents-in-law but not against Suman even though Anita named her in the FIR and the statements recorded by the police.
According to the police, Suman lived in Bikaner whereas the victim and the other in-laws lived in Bikaner and there was no evidence to indicate that she had also harassed the victim.
Anita moved the judicial magistrate of Ganganagar who issued summons to Suman. The latter questioned the issuance of summons before the Sessions Court on the ground that since she had been given a clean chit by the police, the court cannot summon her to stand trial.
The Sessions Court dismissed her plea and the Rajasthan High Court concurred with the order, after which she appealed in the apex court.
Dismissing Suman's appeal, the apex court, citing its earlier judgements, said "we hold that a person who is named in the first information report or complaint with the allegation that he/she has committed any particular crime or offence but against whom the police does not launch prosecution or files charge-sheet or drops the case, can be proceeded against under Section 319 Cr.P.C. if from the evidence collected/produced in the course of any inquiry into or trial of an offence, the court is prima facie satisfied that such person has committed any offence for which he can be tried with other accused."
Anita had, in her complaint, alleged that besides harassing her for dowry, the accused took her to a lady doctor and got implanted a device to prevent her giving birth to any child.
She also alleged though Suman resided in Bikaner she used to instigate on phone her parents and brother to harass her.