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Right of Complainant To Produce Any Additional Witness At Pre-Charge Evidence Stage

Section 244 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Hereinafter referred to as Cr.P.C., 1973) provides an answer to if it is obligatory for the Court to take into consideration all such evidence that may be produced by the complainant in support of his case?

Section 244 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973:

244. Evidence for prosecution:

  1. When, in any warrant-case instituted otherwise than on a police report the accused appears on is brought before a Magistrate, the Magistrate shall proceed to hear the prosecution and take all such evidence as may be produced in support of the prosecution.
  2. The Magistrate may, on the application of the prosecution, issue a summons to any of its witnesses directing him to attend or to produce any document or other thing.

A careful interpretation of the section makes it clear that after appearance of an accused in a complainant case, the complaint has the liberty to produce the evidence/ additional evidence, which supports the case of the complainant in order to strengthen the case.

It is also well settled that the list of witnesses filed in a complaint case under Section 204(2) of Cr. P.C., 1973 can be added to and the Court can be requested to summon and examine additional witnesses' at the stage of pre-charge evidence.

It is thus obligatory for the Court to take into consideration all such evidence that may be produced by the complainant in support of his case as also held in Niadar Singh v. Maman and Ors., Crl. M. (M) No. 3214/99[1] by Justice R.C. Chopra [Hon’ble Delhi High Court].

Even if the names of a witnesses proposed to be examined were not mentioned in the complaint, the same could not be the basis for rejecting an Application for summoning additional witnesses at the stage of pre charge evidence. The Complaint if desires, can produce and examine witnesses other than those mentioned in the list of PWs.

The only caution that is to be kept in mind is to the safeguard that a witness should not be produced suddenly springing a surprise on the accused. Due notice must be given to the accused that a particular witness is sought to be produced and examined by the complainant.

In Niadar case (Supra) the Courts are considered under a legal obligation to examine the witnesses sought to be produced by the complainant at pre-charge stage.

[1] 2000 SCC OnLine Del 1002 : (2001) 57 DRJ 702 : (2001) 89 DLT 563 : 2001 Cri LJ (NOC 151) 43 : (2001) 2 Ch LR 58

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