Recently the Supreme Court in the matter of Satishkumar Nyalchand Shah v. State of Gujarat & Ors. (2020) reiterated that a Court is not obligated to hear the accused while considering a plea for further investigation in accordance with Sec. 173(8) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

In the case, the Appellant filed an application and sought to join as a Respondent through a Special Criminal Application wanting further investigation against other persons. However, this was previously dismissed by the High Court.

The Appellant who was one of the co-accused against whom a charge sheet was already filed and who’s trial was in progress appealed to the Apex Court claiming his right to be heard under Sec. 173(8) of the CrPC. The Supreme Court Bench consisting of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice MR Shah, while upholding the decision given by the High Court noted that the provision of sec. 173(8) of CrPC does not put any such obligation on the Court to hear the accused before any direction regarding further investigation is made.

They also observed that the High Court was completely justified in dismissing the application submitted by the Appellant in the Special Criminal Application. The bench also put much reliance on previous judgements on similar matters and observed that in such cases, the power of the court is to direct the police officials to conduct further investigation. However, there is absolutely nothing in the said provision to imply that courts are obliged to hear the accused before any such direction is made. And in the absence of such an implication, to put this obligation on the court would only burden the already heavy weight load of the courts as they would be required to ensure that all the potential accused are afforded the provision of being heard.

Thus, the Bench concluded stating the decision of the High court of rejecting the Application was in no way erroneous and thus dismissed the appeal.

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Link for Judgement: Satishkumar Shah v. State of Gujarat & ors.