Summoning accused in criminal case is serious matter; order must reflect application of mind: Allahabad High Court

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The court found that the order impugned summoning order was passed in a mechanical manner. Accordingly, court remanded the matter back to the POCSO court to decide the matter afresh.

The Allahabad High Court recently said that the summoning of an accused in a criminal case is a serious matter and the order must reflect that Magistrate had applied his mind to the facts as well as the law applicable thereto. 

The single judge bench of Justice Shamim Ahmed emphasized that the conduct of the judicial officers concerned in passing orders on printed proforma by filling up the blanks without application of judicial mind is objectionable and deserves to be deprecated.

The observations were made in a plea moved by a man booked under Sections 363, 366 of the IPC and Sections 16 and 17 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. 

The man had sought directions to quash the entire criminal proceedings as well as the charge-sheet and the summoning order issued by the magistrate. 

The argument put forth by the accused's counsel was that the magistrate had taken cognizance on a printed proforma and that the summoning order was passed without any application of judicial mind. He said that the impugned order was passed in a routine manner without assigning any reason which was an abuse of the process of law. 

Though the state counsel had opposed the plea, he also did not deny that the summons had been issued on a printed proforma. 

The court observed that the main issue for consideration was that whether the Magistrate may summon the accused person on a printed proforma without assigning any reason and take cognizance on police report filed under Sections 173 of CrPC.

The court said that a Court can take cognizance of an offence only when conditions requisite for initiation of proceedings before it as set out in Chapter XIV of the Code are fulfilled.

Court also clarified that there has to be an application of mind as to whether the material collected by the investigating officer results in sufficient grounds to proceed further, and whether there appears to be a violation of law that would call for a person to face criminal trial. 

"This discretion puts a responsibility on the magistrate concerned to act judiciously keeping in view the facts of the particular case as well as the law on the subject," the court held. 

Regarding the matter at hand, court found that the order under challenge was passed in a mechanical manner and without the magistrate applying his mind or satisfying himself as to what offence was prima facie made out against the accused. 

Accordingly, court quashed the cognizance order that had summoned the accused and remanded the matter back to the POCSO court to decide the matter afresh within two months' time. 

Case Title: Krishna Kumar and Others v. State Of U.P. Thru.Prin.Secy.Home And 3 Others