Bombay High Court : In the case of Anand s/o Shivaji Ghodale v. State of Maharashtra ( Criminal Revision Application No. 296 of 2022 ), the court held that the trial court should not have exercised its authority under section 319 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The Investigating Officer is required, according to the court, to look into the facts and situations that give rise to a cognizable offence. He shouldn’t take the accusations in the FIR at its value.
FACTS OF THE CASE :
The petitioner was accused of violating section 4 of the POCSO Act which is a sexual offence and several IPC offences, and he was identified in the FIR. The applicant was at the applicant’s place of employment, a bank, at the time of the claimed occurrence, according to an application his brother presented to the investigating officer (IO). The IO filed a chargesheet but did not formally accuse the man. The applicant’s case was supported by the Chemical Analysis report of the bank’s CCTV footage. The IO did not submit an additional charge sheet against the applicant after the CA report.
The Special Public Prosecutor’s application under section 319 CrPC for summoning the applicant and submitting a charge sheet against him was approved by the Extra Joint Additional Sessions Judge in Osmanabad. It noted that the defence of an alibi would be taken into account when the circumstances called for it. Hence the current revision request was submitted.
The Bombay High Court has ruled that since there is no law stating that such a defence can only be taken into account at the stage of defence evidence, the defence of alibi can be brought as early as feasible at the stage of framing the accusation. Observing that the trial court ought to have taken into account the man’s defence of alibi, Justice SG Mehare of the Aurangabad bench struck aside trial court summons issued under section 319 of the CrPC to a man for trial under the POCSO Act.
“…It is always wise to raise the plea of alibi as early as possible in the initial stage of the trial. The initial stage could be the stage of framing. It is not a rule that the plea of alibi should be considered only at the stage of defence evidence. “, the court stated.
The court emphasised that section 319 of the Cr.PC should not be used in a robotic fashion. The mere existence of some evidence does not automatically warrant a procedure to be issued. To call someone to trial, there must be substantial evidence against them.
The court noted that in this instance, electronic evidence was used to demonstrate that the petitioner was not there when the incident occurred. “He (applicant) has proved his alibi through electronic evidence, which is admissible evidence. Therefore, it can safely be said that the plea of alibi supported by the genuine electronic evidence collected by a neutral investigating officer soon after registering a crime appears not legally correct”, the court held.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY SREYA MARY.