Judgment reserved on summoning more accused

One-liner: The SC on Thursday reserved its verdict on the issue of whether a lower court has the power to summon additional accused even after having decided a criminal case against the others involved.   

Submissions heard: A five-judge constitution bench heard submissions from Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, amicus curiae (friend of the court) S Nagamuthu and others on questions of reference.

Referred to larger bench: The top court had in 2019 framed three questions of law on the scope and ambit of section 319 (power to proceed against other persons appearing to be guilty of an offence) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and referred the matter to a larger bench for adjudication.

Three issues: The three issues framed by the bench included whether the trial court has the power under section 319 of the CrPC for summoning additional accused when the trial with respect to other co-accused has ended.

Drug smuggling case: The apex court's decision came while dealing with a plea filed by the then Leader of Opposition in the Punjab assembly Sukhpal Singh Khaira challenging the Punjab and Haryana HC order dismissing his plea to quash summons in a 2015 trans-border drug smuggling case.

Summons issued: A court in Fazilka had issued summons to Khaira to appear before it in the case. 

Trial court proceedings stayed: In Khaira's matter, while the trial was going on against 10 accused in the narcotics case, the prosecution had filed an application for summoning five additional accused, including him. The SC had in Dec 2017 stayed the trial court proceedings.

Source: PTI

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