New Delhi, Sept. 30 (PTI): Courts can array any person as an 'accused' in criminal cases even if no chargesheet has been filed against him/her by the investigating agency, the Supreme Court has said.
A bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and D K Jain observed "the trial court has undoubted jurisdiction to add any person not being the accused before it to face the trial along with other accused persons, if the court is satisfied at any stage of the proceeding on the evidence adduced".
Though a person had initially been named in the FIR as an accused but not chargesheeted, he/she can also be added to face the trial, the bench said while interpreting Section 319 of the CrPC.
The power under Section 319 can be exercised by the court suo motu or on an application by someone including the accused already before it, if it is satisfied that any person other than the accused has committed an offence and he is to be tried together with the other accused persons, the apex court ruled.
"The power is discretionary and such discretion must be exercised judicially having regard to facts and circumstances of the case, the bench observed.
"Undisputedly, it is an extraordinary power which is conferred on the court and should be used very sparingly and only if compelling reasons exist," it said.
The bench made the observations while quashing a Patna High Court order which had upheld the inclusion of one Guriya alias Tabassum Tauqir and others who challenged their names being included in a criminal case even though they were not chargesheeted by the investigating agency.
There was no material evidence to invoke Section 319 for including the names of petitioners as accused by the sessions court, it felt.
"The trial court can take such a step to add the persons as accused only on the basis of materials available in the chargesheet or in the case diary," the apex court said while upholding the plea of petitioners.