Courts not obliged to hear accused while considering plea for further investigation u/s section 173(8) CrPC
Satishkumar Nyalchand Shah Vs State of Gujarat and Ors
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 353 OF 2020
About/from the judgment:
The Supreme Court has reiterated that a court is not obliged to hear the accused before any direction for further investigation is made under Section 173(8) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
In this case, the application filed by the appellant seeking to join as a respondent in a Special Criminal Application seeking further investigation against other persons was dismissed by the High Court.
In the appeal before the Apex Court, the issue raised was whether the appellant, who is one of the co-accused against whom the charge-sheet is already filed and against whom the trial is in progress, is required to be heard and/or has any locus in the proceedings under Section 173(8) CrPC – further investigation qua one another accused namely Shri Bhaumik against whom no charge-sheet has been filed till date?
Upholding the High Court order, the court referring to earlier decisions on this aspect, observed that there is nothing in Section 173(8) CrPC to suggest that the court is obliged to hear the accused before any direction for further investigation is made.It said:
Therefore, when the proposed accused against whom the further investigation is sought, namely Shri Bhaumik is not required to be heard at this stage, there is no question of hearing the appellant-one of the co-accused against whom the chargesheet is already filed and the trial against whom is in progress and no relief of further investigation is sought against him. Therefore, the High Court is absolutely justified in rejecting the application submitted by the appellant to implead him as a party respondent in the Special Criminal Application.
The bench, in particular, referred to following observations made in Sri Bhagwan Samardha v. State of A.P. (1999) 5 SCC 740:
In such a situation the power of the court to direct the police to conduct further investigation cannot have any inhibition. There is nothing in Section 173(8) to suggest that the court is obliged to hear the accused before any such direction is made. Casting of any such obligation on the court would only result in encumbering the court with the burden of searching for all the potential accused to be afforded with the opportunity of being heard. As the law does not require it, we would not burden the Magistrate with such an obligation."
While dismissing the appeal, the bench further observed:
We are of the opinion that as such no error has been committed by the High Court dismissing the application submitted by the appellant herein to implead him in the Special Criminal Application filed by the private respondent herein challenging the order passed by the learned Chief Judicial Magistrate rejecting his application for further investigation under Section 173(8) CrPC with respect to one another accused namely Shri Bhaumik against whom no charge-sheet has been filed till date. Therefore, it is not at all appreciable how the appellant against whom no relief is sought for further investigation has any locus and/or any say in the application for further investigation under Section 173(8) CrPC. How he can be said to be a necessary and a proper party. It is required to be noted that, as such, even the proposed accused Shri Bhaumik shall not have any say at this stage in an application under Section 173(8) CrPC for further investigation.
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