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Section 317(2) of the Cr. P.C., 1973: A Case Study on the Supreme Court’s Interpretation

An Examination of the Supreme Court’s Ruling on Splitting of Trial and its Implications

Section 317(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr. P.C.), 1973: A Case Study on the Supreme Court’s Interpretation


The Supreme Court recently made a significant ruling regarding the splitting of trials under section 317(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr. P.C.), 1973.  The court held that a trial cannot be split when further investigation has already been ordered, and when the investigating agency has not furnished a non-traceable certificate.

The Case in Question: S.Mujibar Rahman v State

The case in question involved property damages with offences under Sections 395, 397, 212, 120B, and Section 3 of the Tamil Nadu Public Property Damages Act against 31 accused persons. The case dates back to 2016, during the period of demonetization in India. The petitioner alleged that he was induced by the accused to exchange old notes for new ones, and was subsequently attacked and robbed of 30 lakhs.

The High Court’s Decision on Section 317(2) of the Cr. P.C.

The High Court allowed the Criminal Revision petition and split the trial U/s 317(2) of Cr. P.C, 1973. The court noted that the case had been pending since 2016, with summons remaining unserved for 3 accused individuals, and non-bailable warrants pending against 8 others out of a total of 30 accused persons. Therefore, the High Court ordered the lower court to split the case against the accused who were absent and proceed with criminal proceedings against the rest of the accused persons.

Supreme Court’s Ruling on Section 317(2) of the Cr. P.C.

The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Abhay S. Oka and Justice Pankaj Mithal overturned the High Court’s decision. The bench observed that the High Court had not considered the reasons recorded by the learned Magistrate in the order dated 16th July, 2019, and had not noticed that the learned Judicial Magistrate on 13th February 2019 had permitted further investigation.


The Supreme Court’s ruling underscores the importance of thorough investigation and adherence to procedural norms in criminal proceedings. It also highlights the need for courts to exercise discretion judiciously when considering the splitting of trials.

Provisions of Law Under Discussion

Section Description
Section 317(2) CrPC If the accused in any such case is not represented by a pleader, or if the Judge or Magistrate considers his personal attendance necessary, he may, if he thinks fit and for reasons to be recorded by him, either adjourn such inquiry or trial, or order that the case of such accused be taken up or tried separately.
Section 395 Punishment for dacoity
Section 397 Robbery, or dacoity, with attempt to cause death or grievous hurt
Section 212 Harbouring offender
Section 120B Punishment of criminal conspiracy
Section 3 of the Tamil Nadu Public Property Damages Act Penalty for causing damage to public property

The judgment being discussed is “S.Mujibar Rahman v State” from the Supreme Court of India. The petitioner was represented by Advocate on record A. Velan, assisted by Mritunjay Pathak.



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