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S. 313 CrPC - All Adverse Evidences Should Be Put As Questions; Avoid Bundling Circumstances Together With Only Single Opportunity To Explain : Supreme Court

Ashok KM
4 Aug 2022 1:53 PM GMT
S. 313 CrPC - All Adverse Evidences Should Be Put As Questions; Avoid Bundling Circumstances Together With Only Single Opportunity To Explain : Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court observed that while examining an accused under Section 313 CrPC, all the adverse evidences has to put in the form of questions so as to give an opportunity to the accused to articulate his defence and give his explanation.

"If all the circumstances are bundled together and a single opportunity is provided to the accused to explain himself, he may not able to put forth a rational and intelligible explanation.", the bench comprising CJI NV Ramana and Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli observed. The court clarified such an omission does not ipso facto vitiate the trial, unless the accused fails to prove that grave prejudice has been caused to him.

The court was considering an appeal filed by accused who was concurrently convicted under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 ('IPC') and Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act, 1959. The prosecution case against the accused was that he prosecution he and co-accused went to the complainant's house and called him outside. When the complainant came out, the appellant fired at him with a country­made pistol. The Trial court had relied on the testimony of the mother of the deceased to convict the accused.

In appeal, the Apex Court bench observed that related witness statements need to be scrutinized more carefully. Perusing the statement, the bench came to the conclusion that the same does not inspire confidence.

The court also noted that, in his Section 313 statement, the accused had stated that he and the complainant belonged to opposing student parties and due to the animosity pertaining to the elections, he was falsely implicated in the matter. He also produced two witnesses to prove his alibi who stated that he was in his village as his mother was unwell. It was also pointed out to the Court that the father, sister and brother of the complainant were all a part of the police department.

Referring to the judgments of the Trial Court and the High Court, the bench observed that they failed to scrutinize the defence version put forward by the accused in Section 313 statement. The bench made the following observations regarding the right of the accused under Section 313 CrPC:

  1. Section 313 CrPC confers a valuable right upon an accused to establish his innocence and can well be considered beyond a statutory right, as a constitutional right to a fair trial under Article 21 of the Constitution
  2. The purpose of Section 313 CrPC is to provide the accused a reasonable opportunity to explain the adverse circumstances which have emerged against him during the course of trial. A reasonable opportunity entails putting all the adverse evidences in the form of questions so as to give an opportunity to the accused to articulate his defence and give his explanation.
  3. If all the circumstances are bundled together and a single opportunity is provided to the accused to explain himself, he may not able to put forth a rational and intelligible explanation. Such, exercises which defeats fair opportunity are nothing but empty formality. Non­ fulfilment of the true spirit of Section 313 may ultimately cause grave prejudice to the accused and the Court may not have the benefit of all the necessary facts and circumstances to arrive at a fair conclusion. Such an omission does not ipso facto vitiate the trial, unless the accused fails to prove that grave prejudice has been caused to him
  4. The object of Section 313 of the Code is to establish a direct dialogue between the court and the accused
  5. It is the solemn duty of the courts below to consider the defence of the accused. The same must be considered with caution and must be scrutinised by application of mind by the judge. The Court may accept or reject the same, however it cannot be done cursorily. The reasoning and the application of mind must be reflected in writing.

Allowing the appeal, the court observed thus:

When there is absence of independent evidence corroborating the statements made by complainant, serious doubts regarding the recovery of the alleged motorcycle and the country made pistol, no connection proved between the alleged recovered items and the alleged incident, and the plausible version put forward by the accused­appellant in his Section 313 statement has not been satisfactorily responded to by the prosecution, the case against the accused­ appellant cannot be sustained.


Case details

Jai Prakash Tiwari vs State of Madhya Pradesh | 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 658 | CrA 704 OF 2018 | 4 August 2022 | CJI NV Ramana, Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli


Headnotes

Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 ; Section 313 - The purpose of Section 313 CrPC is to provide the accused a reasonable opportunity to explain the adverse circumstances which have emerged against him during the course of trial. A reasonable opportunity entails putting all the adverse evidences in the form of questions so as to give an opportunity to the accused to articulate his defence and give his explanation- If all the circumstances are bundled together and a single opportunity is provided to the accused to explain himself, he may not able to put forth a rational and intelligible explanation. Such, exercises which defeats fair opportunity are nothing but empty formality. Non­ fulfilment of the true spirit of Section 313 may ultimately cause grave prejudice to the accused and the Court may not have the benefit of all the necessary facts and circumstances to arrive at a fair conclusion. Such an omission does not ipso facto vitiate the trial, unless the accused fails to prove that grave prejudice has been caused to him -The object of Section 313 of the Code is to establish a direct dialogue between the court and the accused. (Para 25-28)

Constitution of India, 1950 ; Article 21 - Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 ; Section 313 - Section 313 CrPC confers a valuable right upon an accused to establish his innocence and can well be considered beyond a statutory right, as a constitutional right to a fair trial under Article 21. (Para 19)

Criminal Trial - Related Witness - A close relative cannot automatically be characterized as an "interested" witness. However, even related witness statements need to be scrutinized more carefully. (Para 10)


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