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Preliminary enquiry not necessary for directing prosecution of witness u/s 195 CrPC
Laxman Rao Vs Court of Third Additional Sessions Judge Guna and anr
Madhya Pradesh HC
About/from the judgment:
The High Court held that conducting a preliminary enquiry is not sine qua non for issuing a direction for prosecution U/S 195 CRPC and that the Applicant is not entitled for any opportunity of hearing prior to that.
The Court was essentially dealing with a Criminal Revision against the order of the Additional Sessions Judge, wherein the appeal preferred by the Applicant against the dismissal of his application U/S 340 CRPC before Judicial Magistrate of First Class was rejected.
Brief facts of the case are that the Applicant was a seizure witness in a criminal case. During his examination before the trial court, he changed his stance on multiple occasions, thereby intentionally weakening the prosecution's case. The trial court, while passing the judgment, also directed that since the Applicant had intentionally changed his version, a complaint be filed under Section 340 CRPC for his prosecution under Section 195 IPC. Accordingly, a complaint was filed and an objection was raised by the Applicant by filing an application under Section 340 CRPC, submitting that since no preliminary enquiry was conducted, the complaint was not maintainable. The said application was rejected by JFMC, and an appeal preferred against the same by the Applicant was also dismissed by the ADJ.
The Applicant's arguments were twofold: In the absence of preliminary enquiry, the direction to file complaint should not have been given. Further, the prosecution of every witness is not necessary merely on the ground that he has not supported the prosecution case.
Examining the decision of the Apex Court in Pritish Vs State of Maharashtra (2002) 1 SCC 253, the Court observed-
Thus, where the Court is of the prima facie opinion that it is in the interest of justice to proceed against the witness for giving a false evidence, then holding of preliminary enquiry is not warranted. So far as the question of giving opportunity of hearing to the applicant before directing for his prosecution under Section 195 of CrPC, the said question is also no more res integra … the holding of preliminary enquiry is not sine qua non for issuing a direction for prosecution under Section 195 of CrPC and even the applicant is not entitled for any opportunity of hearing prior to that.
The Court further noted that the Applicant was a member of Gram Raksha Samiti. He had certain statutory duties to follow. During the course of his evidence, he changed his version at every stage. Thus, this conduct of the Applicant was clearly indicative of the fact that the he had deliberately changed his version in order to help the accused. The Court held-
Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, coupled with the fact that the applicant is the member of Gram Raksha Samiti and has statutory duties to discharge and he deliberately changed his version with regard to the place from where the amount of Rs.80,000/- was seized from the accused Ramkumar, this Court is of the considered opinion that the Trial Court did not commit any mistake by directing to file a complaint for prosecution of the applicant. Furthermore, the Trial Magistrate did not commit any mistake by rejecting the application filed under Section 340 of CrPC.
Affirming the decision of the ADJ and the JFMC, the court directed the lower court to proceed further with the case and make every endeavour to conclude the trial within a period of one year. If further added that if the Applicant did not cooperate in the matter, the court below shall be free to take coercive action against him for ensuring the early disposal of the trial. The revision was accordingly dismissed.
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