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  • In a case titled Special Police Establishment vs. Umesh Tiwari and anr. the Madhya Pradesh HC has held that while the victim and the Courts can invoke section 91 of CrPC at any stage of the legal proceedings, be it investigation, inquiry or trial, the accused can only invoke the same when the investigation has been completed and the chargesheet has been filed.
  • In the instant case, the trial Court had allowed an application of the accused under section 91 CrPC for the summoning of the call details of the conversation between the complainant and some other people who were connected with the dispute in question. The same had been during the course of the investigation.
  • The objections of the petitioner were that the same violated his right to privacy and that the accused had no right to invoke section 91 of CrPC during the pendency of the investigation.
  • The HC observed that a bare reading of the impugned section makes it clear that it can be invoked at any stage of the investigation, inquiry or trial. It does not specifically provide as to who can or cannot invoke it. However, the language of the section clearly shows that it can be invoked by the Court or the Officer in-charge of the Police Station concerned when they feel that the summoning of the document for the purpose of investigation, inquiry, trial or other proceedings under CrPC.
  • The Court also observed that the section confers a power upon the Court to summon any document necessary in order to do complete justice and to prevent a miscarriage of justice. The Court also concluded that the power provided for by this section should not be restricted to Courts and Police Officers only. The same power could be availed of by all the concerned parties in the case, thua, extending the power of summoning to both the prosecution and the accused.
  • However, the Court also noted that the investigation proceedings are unilateral in nature, and since the accused has no role to play in the same, it would be unwise to suggest that the accused can, as of right, invoke section 91 CrPC during the pendency of the investigation.
  • The Court also held that it is after filing of the chargesheet, when the proceedings become multilateral, bringing into the case the other stakeholders, that the accused can invoke section 91 CrPC as a matter of right.
  • Thus, the HC held that the order of the trial Court allowing the accused to invoke section 91 CrPC during the pendency of the investigation was incorrect and the order was set aside.
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