13 Aug 2023 7:33 AM GMT
The Supreme Court recently set aside the directions issued by the Punjab & Haryana High Court regarding issuance of summons to prosecution witnesses in a criminal trial.The High Court, in its order passed on May 27, 2022, had adopted the directions issued by the Madhya Pradesh High Court in Rambahor Saket and others vs State of M.P.(2018) and reiterated those guidelines as...
The Supreme Court recently set aside the directions issued by the Punjab & Haryana High Court regarding issuance of summons to prosecution witnesses in a criminal trial.
The High Court, in its order passed on May 27, 2022, had adopted the directions issued by the Madhya Pradesh High Court in Rambahor Saket and others vs State of M.P.(2018) and reiterated those guidelines as follows-
The P&H High Court directed that these guidelines should apply to all courts within the territories of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.
On August 8, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Aravind Kumar set aside these directions.
"A rigid rule like this cannot be made through a judicial fiat", the bench orally remarked.
The High Court had passed the above directions while granting bail to an accused in a murder case. While hearing the case, the High Court noted that the Trial Court had issued proclamation under Section 82 CrPC against two prosecution witnesses for failing to appear. Taking a critical view of this approach, the High Court sought an explanation from the Trial Court.
"It is surprising that the trial Court has adopted a procedure under Section 82 Cr.P.C. against a witness, though the procedure under Section 82 Cr.P.C. is meant for the appearance of an accused person", the HC observed.
The HC added “The perusal of Section 82(4) Cr.P.C. clearly shows that a witness cannot be declared a proclaimed offender, if he fails to appear despite service of non-bailable warrants, rather the procedure to be adopted by the Court is provided under Section 350 Cr.P.C."
The HC also highlighted that the trial court failed to take notice of section 174 IPC where a witness doesn’t appear after an order is passed by a public servant, he can be punished for imprisonment for up to 6 months or a fine.
In State's appeal, the Supreme Court noted that if a person doesn’t appear after a proclamation is issued against him under Section 82, CrPC then the punishment for the same is provided under Section 174-A Indian Penal Code.
The court finally held that “It is evident that the impugned order has inadvertently or otherwise entirely overlooked Form 5 and 6 and the important provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, Sections 83 and 174A IPC. Therefore, to the extent, they issue directions to the State and to all Courts within the territories of Punjab, Haryana and the Union Territory of Chandigarh; are hereby set aside.
Case title: State of Haryana v Darshan Singh
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 638
Click Here To Read/Download Order
Click here to read the order passed by P&H HC