Section 311 CrPC: Power to Summon Material Witness or Examine Person Present

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Section 311 CrPC: Power to Summon Material Witness or Examine Person Present

1. State the code

Section 311 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973, empowers the court to summon a material witness or examine a person present in court to elicit further information relevant to the case.

2. Explain it

This section allows the court to take proactive measures to ensure a fair trial by:

  • Summoning Material Witnesses: If the court believes that a person, even not originally summoned, possesses crucial information related to the case, it can issue a summons to compel their presence and testimony.
  • Examining Persons Present: The court has the authority to question individuals present in court, even if they are not formally involved in the case, if their knowledge or observations could be relevant to the proceedings.

The court’s power under this section is discretionary and exercised only when it is deemed necessary for a just determination of the case.

3. Illustrate it

Imagine a case where a witness, not initially summoned, arrives at court and claims to have seen the accused committing the crime. The judge, under Section 311, can summon this witness to record their testimony, even though they were not part of the original witness list.

4. Common Questions and Answers

Q: Can the court compel a person to answer questions if they claim their answer might incriminate them?
A: No. Section 311 does not override the right against self-incrimination. A witness can invoke this right, and the court cannot compel them to answer questions that might expose them to criminal liability.

Also Read  CrPC Section 342: Power to Order Court - Code of Criminal Procedure

Q: Does Section 311 allow the court to call a person as a witness who is not already a party to the case?
A: Yes, Section 311 specifically allows the court to summon a material witness who is not already a party to the case, as long as the court deems their testimony relevant and necessary for a fair trial.

Q: What are the limitations on the court’s power under Section 311?
A: The court’s power under Section 311 is discretionary. It can only be exercised if the court believes that the person possesses material information, and the examination is necessary for a just determination of the case. Furthermore, the court cannot compel a person to answer questions that might incriminate them.

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