22 Jan 2022 2:30 PM GMT
The Madhya Pradesh High Court (Jabalpur Bench) on Friday answered several significant questions related to Section 91 of CrPC which deals with Summons to produce documents or other things. Essentially, the Bench of Justice Sheel Nagu and Justice Sunita Yadav examined as to when can an accused as also a victim, invoke this Section during a criminal proceedingānd came up with the...
The Madhya Pradesh High Court (Jabalpur Bench) on Friday answered several significant questions related to Section 91 of CrPC which deals with Summons to produce documents or other things.
Essentially, the Bench of Justice Sheel Nagu and Justice Sunita Yadav examined as to when can an accused as also a victim, invoke this Section during a criminal proceedingānd came up with the following conclusion:
At the outset, the Court, analyzed Section 91 of CrPC and thereafter, it came up with the following observations:
(i) Section 91 is meant to be invoked for producing documents/other things by way of summon.
(ii) Section 91 can be invoked at any stage of investigation, inquiry, trial or even other proceedings under the Cr.P.C.
(iii) Section 91 does not expressly provide as to who can invoke this provision.
(iv) However, the language of Section 91 implies that it can be invoked by the Court or the Officer in-charge of the Police Station concerned.
(v) And this invocation can be done when the Court or the Police is of the view that production is necessary or desirable for the purpose of investigation, inquiry, trial or other proceedings under Cr.P.C.
(vi) The satisfaction regarding necessity or desirability of the Court or the Police is sine qua non for invoking this provision.
(vii) The production of document or other thing is to be made before the Court if directed by the Court or before the officer if directed by Police Officer.
Examination of Section 91 CrPC as undertaken by the Court
The Court noted that the ultimate objective behind Section 91 is to confer power in the hands of the Court in case of pending investigation, inquiry, trial or other proceedings to produce a document or other things, which the Court deems relevant and cogent to the conduction of investigation, inquiry, trial or other proceedings and which are not already on record.
Thus, the Court added, Section 91 is a supplementary power available inter alia to the Court to do complete justice in investigation/inquiry/trial or other proceedings as the case may be and to prevent failure of justice.
"Section 91 admittedly does not in express terms identifies the stakeholder in justice dispensation system who can invoke the said provision, but the content and context of Section 91 implies that the said provision can be invoked by the Court at any stage of investigation, inquiry, trial and other proceedings," the Court importantly stressed.
Therefore, the Court concluded that it won't be proper to restrict the power to invoke Section 91 to only the Court and the Police Officer and that, the window of this Section remains open for all the stakeholders in an investigation, inquiry, trial, and other proceedings, be it the victim, accused, police, Court or any other stakeholders involved.
However, the Court also opined that since the process of investigation is unilateral in nature where the accused has no role to play during the pendency of the investigation, the accused cannot, as of right, invoke Section 91.
"However, the invocation of Section 91 during investigation remains open for the Court, the Police or the victim whereas the accused can invoke Section 91 on and after filing the charge-sheet from which stage the proceedings become multilateral bringing to the fore the other stakeholders i.e. the victim and the accused also, besides the prosecution," the Court added.
Further, regarding the power of the Court to invoke Section 91, the Court said that the same can be done, either suo moto or on behest of some stakeholder in the process of investigation, inquiry, trial, or other proceedings.
"The cause for invoking Section 91 can arise from any source, be it victim, accused (except during pendency of investigation) and Police. Denying any of the stakeholder, the right to invoke Section 91 may defeat the ultimate object behind Section 91 which is to ensure discovery of truth, rendering of justice and preventing failure of justice," the Court added.
The case in brief
The matter before the Court was related to a challenge to a trial court's order that had allowed an application u/S 91 Cr.P.C., for the production of call details of the conversation between the complainant and some other persons, who are said to be somehow connected with the offence in question.
The objection taken by the victim was of violation of his right to privacy while the objection taken by the prosecution was that the accused has no right to invoke Section 91 during the pendency of the investigation.
Opining that the trial Court ought to have heard the victim/complainant before passing the impugned order, the Court observed that except during the pendency of the process of investigation, the accused cannot be denied his right to invoke Section 91.
With this, the Court held that the trial Court's order permits the accused to invoke Section 91 during the pendency of the investigation, which, the Court held, is impermissible, therefore, the Court set the order aside.
However, the Court did add that if the trial Court feels that the call details as directed to be requisitioned by way of summoning by the impugned order are necessary and desirable for the purpose of investigation, then the trial Court is free to direct the investigating agency to take the said material into consideration so that the investigation is conducted and concluded in a free and fair manner without any element of prejudice for or again any stakeholder involved.
Case title - Special Police Establishment v. Umesh Tiwari and anotherCase citation: 2022 LiveLaw (MP) 9
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