Expanding the scope of powers of court under the criminal justice system, the Supreme Court has held trial court could name a person as an accused even if he has not been named in the FIR or chargesheet.
A five-judge constitution bench held courts are not powerless in calling such a person to face trial if the investigative agency does not make him or her an accused.
Headed by Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam, SC said: “It will be inappropriate to deny the existence of such powers with the courts in our criminal justice system where it is not uncommon that the real accused, at times, get away by manipulating the investigating and/or the prosecuting agency.”
Analysing section 319 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), the bench said: “A person not named in the FIR or a person though named in the FIR but has not been chargesheeted or a person who has been discharged can be summoned under Section 319 CrPC provided from the evidence it appears that such person can be tried along with the accused already facing trial.”
“It is the duty of the court to do justice by punishing the real culprit. Where the investigating agency for any reason does not array one of the real culprits as an accused, the court is not powerless in calling the said accused to face trial. The question remains under what circumstances and at what stage should the court exercise its power as contemplated in Section 319,” it said.
The court, it added, was the sole repository of justice and a duty was cast upon it to uphold the rule of law.
It said materials coming before the court, during the trial stage, can be used to add an accused whose name has not been shown in column 2 of the chargesheet. Persons who can’t be sent up for trial due to lack of evidence are named in column two.