22 Jun 2022 4:19 AM GMT
The Allahabad High Court has recently observed that a delay in the conclusion of the proceedings/trial should not be the reason for the rejection of an application under Section 311 Cr.P.C.The bench of Justice Shekhar Kumar Yadav observed thus as it quashed an order of the Trial Court wherein an application moved under Section 311 CrPC was rejected noting that the case had been pending for...
The Allahabad High Court has recently observed that a delay in the conclusion of the proceedings/trial should not be the reason for the rejection of an application under Section 311 Cr.P.C.
The bench of Justice Shekhar Kumar Yadav observed thus as it quashed an order of the Trial Court wherein an application moved under Section 311 CrPC was rejected noting that the case had been pending for a substantial amount of time.
Taking into account the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Manju Devi Vs State of Rajasthan (2019) 6 SCC 203, the Bench observed that the age of a case, by itself, cannot be decisive of the matter when a prayer is made for examination of a material witness.
It may be noted that Section 311 deals with the power to summon material witness, or examine person present. Any Court may, at any stage of any inquiry, trial or other proceeding under this Code, summon any person as a witness, or examine any person in attendance, though not summoned as a witness, or recall and reexamine any person already examined; and the Court shall summon and examine or recall and reexamine any such person if his evidence appears to it to be essential to the just decision of the case, the provision reads.
Justice Yadav's bench clarified that a trial court can summon any witness even if evidence of both sides is closed and only factor which is required to be demonstrated is - the evidence of such witness is essential to the just decision of the case.
The case in brief
A person was implicated in a murder case of the year 1996 and a charge sheet against him was submitted in the year 1997. After about 25 years, in April 2022, he moved an application before the trial court seeking to produce two persons either as defence witness or court witness for the just and proper decision of the trial.
Essentially, one of the witnesses sought to be produced was an eyewitness of the incident and he was cited in the list of witnesses by both the Investigating Officers at the time of filing of the charge sheet and while submitting the final report but he was not produced by the prosecution side in the trial proceedings.
However, this application was rejected by the trial court noticing the fact that the High Court had, considering it to be one of the oldest matters, already directed the trial court to conclude the trial of the matter within six months.
Now, that very order was challenged by the accused/applicant before the High Court by way of filing an application under section 482 CrPC.
The AGA argued that an application under Section 311 Cr.P.C. moved by the applicant at the fag end of the trial was nothing, but a deliberate attempt to delay the conclusion of the trial.
At the outset, the Court noted that power conferred under Section 311 Cr.P.C. is to be invoked by the court to meet the ends of justice, for strong and valid reasons and it is to be exercised with great caution and circumspection.
Further, referring to the Manju Devi case, the Court noted that an application under Section 311 Cr.P.C could not be rejected on the sole ground that the case had been pending for an inordinate amount of time.
Further, the Court notes that the production of both the witnesses was essential for the just decision of the case. Against this backdrop, the Court allowed the 482 CrPC plea and quashed the lower court's order by observing thus:
"...trial Court appears to have adopted a hyper-technical view in rejecting the application, however, what it appears to have ignored is the purpose for which the salutary provisions of Section 311 Cr.P.C. has been incorporated. It has failed to adhere to the well known adage that every trial is a voyage in which quest for truth is the goal. The trial court can summon any witness even if evidence of both sides is closed. What is required to be demonstrated is, evidence of such witness is essential to the just decision of the case."
Case title - Madhusudan Shukla Vs. State Of U.P.And Another [APPLICATION U/S 482 No. - 12409 of 2022]
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (AB) 299
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