Juhru & Ors. VERSUS Karim & Anr.

Juhru & Ors. VERSUS Karim & Anr. 

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले

[Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Criminal) No. 1658 of 2020]
Juhru & Ors. … Appellant(s)
Karim & Anr. … Respondent(s)
Surya Kant, J.
Leave Granted.
2. The instant Criminal Appeal originates from a judgment dated
27.01.2020 whereby the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at
Chandigarh (in short ‘High Court’), while setting aside the order
dated 12.07.2018 passed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Nuh,
has ordered the summoning of the Appellants under Section 319
of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (hereinafter ‘Cr.P.C.’) as
additional accused. 
3. Briefly stated the facts are that FIR No. 270 dated 09.07.2017
was   registered   at   Police   Station   Tauru,   District   Nuh   under
Sections 304B, 498A, 406, 323 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code,
1860 (hereinafter ‘IPC’) on the statement of Karim ­ Respondent
No.   1   to   the   effect   that   the   marriage   of   his   deceased   sister
(Rukseena) was solemnised on 04.12.2016 with one Aamir.  An
Alto car, Rs.3 lakhs in cash, 3 kg of silver, 30 grams of gold,
furniture   and   other   household   items   were   allegedly   given   to
Aamir and his family members as dowry at the time of marriage.
The   family   of   Aamir   comprised   of   Akhlima   (mother),   Juhru
(father) – Appellant No.1, Sonam (sister) – Appellant No.2 and
Rijwan   (brother­in­law)   –   Appellant   No.3.     The   complainant
further alleged that the family of Aamir was dissatisfied with the
dowry and subjected the deceased to continuous torture and
harassment.  Respondent No.1 and his family tried to settle the
matter with Aamir and his family but all their efforts proved
futile.     Respondent   No.   1   was   telephonically   informed   on
09.07.2017 that the deceased had hung herself to death.
4. The investigating agency did not find any incriminating material
against the Appellants in the course of investigation and Challan
was filed only against the husband and the mother­in­law of the
deceased, who are now facing trial.
5. During the trial, Respondent No. 1 stepped into the witness box
as PW­1 on 01.03.2018 and reiterated the allegations levelled
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against all the accused persons, including the Appellants. Soon
thereafter, Respondent No. 1 filed an application under section
319 Cr.P.C before the Trial Court to summon the Appellants as
additional accused. 
6. The Trial Court dismissed the said application observing that the
extraordinary power vested under section 319 Cr.P.C ought to be
exercised   only   if   the   evidence   adduced   on   record   strongly
indicates the possible involvement of the person(s) aimed to be
prosecuted. The Trial Court further opined that it did not appear
from the deposition of Respondent No. 1 or from other material
on   record   that   the   persons   sought   to   be   summoned   had
committed any offence for which they could be tried together
with accused Aamir and Akhlima. 
7. The aggrieved Respondent No. 1, approached the High Court
under   Section   482,   Cr.P.C.   and   vide   impugned   order   dated
27.01.2020 his petition was allowed and the appellants were
summoned to face trial. The High Court observed that the FIR as
well   as   the   testimony   of   Respondent   No.   1   during   the   trial
revealed   that   the   insinuations   against   the   Appellants   were
exactly  the   same  as   those   attributed  to   the  accused   already
facing   trial.   Hence,   in   the   absence   of   any   distinguishable
features, the Appellants were also liable to be tried along with
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Aamir and Akhlima. The High Court further viewed that there
existed   sufficient   grounds   for   summoning   the   Appellants   as
additional accused. 
8. Discontented   with   their   summoning   by   the   High   Court,   the
Appellants are before us. 
9.   Mr. S.K. Verma, learned counsel for the Appellants, vehemently
contended that the High Court has committed a grave error of
law   in   not   appreciating   that   the   powers   under   Section   319
Cr.P.C. are to be exercised sparingly only if the evidence vividly
points out the possible involvement of the person(s) proposed to
be   prosecuted.   There   is   not   an   iota   of   evidence   against   the
appellants to glean a conclusion of their involvement. Further,
the fact that the  Appellants  were found  innocent  during the
course   of   two­fold   investigation   has   not   been   adequately
considered by the High Court. There is no evidence to suggest
even remotely that the Appellants were cruel to the deceased
shortly before her death. The allegations are general and vague
in nature without attributing any specific role to the Appellants.
10. On the other hand, Mr. Deepkaran Dalal, learned Counsel for
the Ist Respondent, strongly defended the approach of the High
Court and submitted that, given the allegations made in the FIR
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and  the  deposition  of  Respondent  No.1,  the  High  Court  was
justified   in   summoning   the   Appellants,   who   were   actively
involved   in   harassing   the   deceased   for   not   bringing   enough
dowry   and   which   eventually   led   to   the   unfortunate   death   of
Rukseena just within 7 months of her marriage.
C.    A    NALYSIS
11.   There is no gainsaid that the alleged offence is grave and heinous
in nature. The long arms of law must find out whether any
person is guilty of abetting or taking away the precious life of a
young girl who soon after her marriage met with such a tragic
end. However, the only issue that falls for our consideration is
whether there is sufficient evidence against the Appellants to
summon them as additional accused?
12. Section 319 Cr.P.C. contemplates that: 
“….Where, in the course of any inquiry into, or trial of,
an offence, it appears from the evidence that any person
not   being   the   Accused   has   committed   any   offence   for
which   such   person   could   be   tried   together   with   the
Accused, the Court may proceed against such person for
the offence which he appears to have committed. … …”
13.   Illuminating the scope of Section 319 Cr.PC, the Constitution
Bench of this Court in Hardeep Singh vs. State of Punjab1
down that :
 (2014) 3 SCC 92
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“57.   Thus,   the   application   of   the   provisions   of
Section  319   CrPC,  at   the   stage  of   inquiry   is   to   be
understood   in   its   correct   perspective.   The   power
under Section 319 CrPC can be exercised only on the
basis   of   the   evidence   adduced   before   the   court
during  a trial. So far as its application during the
course of inquiry is concerned, it remains limited as
referred   to   herein   above,   adding   a   person   as   an
accused, whose name has been mentioned in Column
2 of the charge­sheet or any other person who might
be an accomplice.”
“105.   Power   under   Section   319   CrPC   is   a
discretionary and an extraordinary power. It is to be
exercised   sparingly  and  only   in   those   cases  where
the circumstances of the case so warrant. It is not to
be exercised because the Magistrate or the Sessions
Judge is of the opinion that some other person may
also be guilty of committing that offence. Only where
strong and cogent evidence occurs against a person
from   the   evidence   led   before   the   court   that   such
power should be exercised and not in a casual and
cavalier manner.
106. Thus, we hold that though only a prima facie
case is to be established from the evidence led before
the   court,   not   necessarily   tested   on   the   anvil   of
cross­examination,   it   requires   much   stronger
evidence   than   mere   probability   of   his   complicity.
The test that has to be applied is one which is more
than  prima   facie   case  as   exercised  at   the   time   of
framing   of   charge,   but   short   of   satisfaction   to  an
extent  that  the  evidence,  if  goes unrebutted,  would
lead   to   conviction.   In   the   absence   of   such
satisfaction,   the   court   should   refrain   from
exercising power under Section 319 CrPC. In Section
319   CrPC   the   purpose   of   providing   if   “it   appears
from   the   evidence   that   any   person   not   being   the
accused   has   committed  any   offence”   is   clear   from
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the   words   “for   which   such   person   could   be   tried
together with the accused”. The words used are not
“for which such person could be convicted”. There is,
therefore,   no   scope   for   the   court   acting   under
Section 319 CrPC to form any opinion as to the guilt
of the accused.”
14. This Court has very recently, in Sukhpal Singh Khaira vs. The
State of Punjab2
,  succinctly explained the powers bestowed on
the Court under section 319 Cr.P.C. and ruled that: 
“15. At the outset, having noted the provision, it is amply
clear that the power bestowed on the Court is to the effect
that in the course of an inquiry into, or trial of an offence,
based   on   the   evidence   tendered   before   the   Court,   if   it
appears   to   the   Court   that   such   evidence   points   to   any
person other than the accused who are  being tried before
the Court to have committed any offence and such accused
has been excluded in the charge sheet or in the process of
trial   till   such   time   could   still   be   summoned   and   tried
together with the accused for the offence which appears to
have   been   committed   by   such   persons   summoned   as
additional accused.”
15. In Hardeep Singh (Supra), it has been eloquently held that the
word   “evidence”   in   Section   319   Cr.P.C.   has   to   be   broadly
understood   and   thus   materials   which   have   come   before   the
Court in course of enquiry can be used for : ­ 
(i) corroboration   of   evidence   recorded   by   Court   after  
commencement of trial;
(ii) for exercise of power under Section 319 Cr.P.C.; and
 (2023) 1 SCC 289
Page | 7
(iii) also to add an accused whose name is shown in column
no.2  of the chargesheet.
It was further explained that statement made in examination­in
chief also constitutes “evidence” and the Court while exercising
power under Section 319 Cr.P.C. post commencement of trial,
need   not   wait   for   evidence   against   person   proposed   to   be
summoned, to be tested by cross­examination.
16. In  Sukhpal   Singh   Khaira   (Supra),  the   Constitution   Bench
refreshed the guidelines that the competent court must follow
while exercising power under Section 319 Cr.P.C.  It was ruled
that :­
(i) if   the   competent   court   finds   evidence   or   if   application
under Section 319 Cr.P.C. is filed, regarding involvement of
any   other   person   in   committing   the   offence   based   on
evidence “recorded at any stage in the trial” before passing
of the order on acquittal or sentence, it shall pause the
trial at that stage and the Court shall proceed to decide the
fate of the application under Section 319 Cr.P.C.;
(ii) if the Court decides to summon an accused under Section
319 Cr.P.C., such summoning order shall be passed before
proceeding further  with  the  trial  in  the  main   case  and
depending upon the stage at which the order is passed, the
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Trial Court shall apply its mind to the fact as to whether
such summoned accused is to be tried along with other
accused or separately; and
(iii) if the power under Section 319 Cr.P.C. is not invoked or
exercised in the main trial till its conclusion and if there is
a split­up case, such power can be invoked or exercised
only   if   there   is   evidence   to   that   effect,   pointing   to   the
involvement of the additional accused to be summoned in
the spilt­up (bifurcated trial).
17. It   is,   thus,   manifested   from   a   conjoint   reading   of   the   cited
decisions that power of summoning under Section 319 Cr.P.C. is
not to be exercised routinely and the existence of more than a
prima   facie  case   is  sine   quo   non  to   summon   an   additional
accused.  We may hasten to add that with a view to prevent the
frequent misuse of power to summon additional accused under
Section 319 Cr.P.C., and in conformity with the binding judicial
dictums referred to above, the procedural safeguard can be that
ordinarily the summoning of a person at the very threshold of
the trial may be discouraged and the trial court must evaluate
the evidence against the persons sought to be summoned and
then adjudge whether such material is, more or less, carry the
same weightage and value as has been testified against those
Page | 9
who   are   already   facing   trial.   In   the   absence   of   any   credible
evidence, the power under Section 319 Cr.P.C. ought not to be
18. Adverting   to   the   case   in   hand,   the   allegations   against   the
Appellants   are   that   they   too   played   an   active   role   in   the
commission of the alleged offence. 
19. The record reveals that after the application under section 319
Cr.P.C was dismissed by the Trial Court, Respondent No.1 was
called on 06.12.2018 for further examination­in­chief as PW­1.
His deposition distinctively unravels that at the time of marriage,
Appellant No.1 – Juhru (father­in­law) had asked Respondent
No.1 to spend a sum of Rs. 20 lacs on the marriage of Aamir and
the deceased, to which Respondent No.1 had agreed.  Appellant
No.1 and his wife Akhlima (mother­in­law) were living under the
same roof as his son Aamir (husband) and he would have been
privy to all the alleged occurrences of torture, harassment or
demand for more dowry. Viewed from this angle, it appears that
the Ist appellant might have to sink or swim with his son and
wife.   The   High   Court   order,   to   the   extent   of   summoning
Appellant No. 1, therefore, satisfies the ingredients of Section
319 Cr.P.C. and may not warrant any interference by this Court.
Page | 10
20. As regard to Appellant Nos. 2 and 3, i.e., Sonam (sister­in­law),
and Rijwan (brother­in­law) of the deceased, it appears to us that
despite   both   of   them   being   named   in   the   FIR   and   in   the
examination­in­chief of Respondent No.1, there is no credible
evidence to connect them with the unnatural death of Rukseena.
There is no cogent material that Appellant No. 2, even after her
marriage   with   Appellant   No.   3,   continued   to   reside   in   her
parents’ house or that they used to inter­meddle in the day to
day marital life of the deceased and Aamir. In the absence of any
authentic   evidence   to   bring   them   in   close   proximity   of   the
reported crime, it would be unjustified to call upon Appellant
Nos. 2 and 3 to face trial as additional accused in this case.  
21. In light of above discussion, we are of the considered view that
while   summoning   of   Appellant   No.   1   sustains,   but   that   of
Appellant Nos. 2 and 3 will be farfetched and they cannot be
subjected to trial on the basis of mere strong suspicion. The High
Court   order   under   challenge   is   accordingly   set   aside   qua
Appellant Nos. 2 and 3.
22. Having held that Appellant No.1 has been rightly summoned and
is liable to be tried along with his son and wife, the next question
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that requires consideration is as to the manner in which the trial
will proceed hitherto.
23. The information available on record suggests that the trial is at
the stage of defence evidence. The guidelines that the Trial Court
must follow, while commencing the trial against Appellant No.1
have   been   extensively   iterated   by   the   Constitution   Bench   in
Sukhpal Singh Khaira (Supra), in the following terms: 
“41 (III). What are the guidelines that the competent court
must   follow   while   exercising   power   under   Section   319
41.1 If the competent court finds evidence or if application
under   Section   319   of   CrPC   is   filed   regarding
involvement   of   any   other   person   in   committing   the
offence based on evidence recorded at any stage in the
trial   before   passing   of   the   order   on   acquittal   or
sentence, it shall pause the trial at that stage.
41.2 The   Court   shall   thereupon   first   decide   the   need   or
otherwise to summon the additional accused and pass
orders thereon.
41.3 If  the  decision  of  the  court   is   to  exercise   the  power
under Section 319 of CrPC and summon the accused,
such   summoning   order   shall   be   passed   before
proceeding further with the trial in the main case.
41.4 If   the   summoning   order   of   additional   accused   is
passed, depending on the stage at which it is passed,
the Court shall also apply its mind to the fact as to
whether such summoned accused is to be tried along
with the other accused or separately.
Page | 12
41.5 If the decision is for joint trial, the fresh trial shall be
commenced   only   after   securing   the   presence   of   the
summoned accused.
41.6 If the decision is that the summoned accused can be
tried separately, on such order being made, there will
be   no   impediment   for   the   Court   to   continue   and
conclude the trial against the accused who were being
proceeded with.”
24. The Trial Court shall, thus, follow the cited dictum and proceed
against Appellant No. 1 in accordance with law.
25. For the reasons aforestated but without expressing any views on
merits, we partly allow this appeal and modify the impugned
order of the High Court dated 27.01.2020 in above terms. 
26. Pending applications, if any, stand disposed of.
………..………………… J.
DATED: 21.02.2023
Page | 13


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