Supreme Court emphasized the importance of Section 313 of CrPC in its judgment delivered on Tuesday
Supreme Court emphasized the importance of Section 313 of CrPC in its judgment delivered on Tuesday
Litigation News

Failure of Trial Court to consider explanation of accused under Section 313, CrPC could endanger conviction: Supreme Court

Under this section, the accused is given an opportunity to offer an explanation after the Prosecution has closed evidence. This opportunity is a valuable right and cannot be brushed aside lightly, the Court said.

Shruti Mahajan

The Supreme Court today emphasised on the importance of the right of the accused to offer an explanation under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) terming this right a valuable one in seeking justice.

In its judgment, the three-Judge bench of Justices NV Ramana, S Abdul Nazeer, and Surya Kant held that the right of an accused under Section 313 of the CrPC is a valuable right in order to seek justice and for the accused to defend oneself.

Failure of the Courts to consider the defence could be prejudicial to justice and could endanger conviction itself, the Court said.

“Such opportunity is a valuable right of the accused to seek justice and defend oneself. Failure of the trial Court to fairly apply its mind and consider the defence, could endanger the conviction itself.”
Supreme Court

Under the CrPC, the accused are given an opportunity to offer an explanation and mount a defence under Section 313 after the Prosecution has closed its evidence and completed examining the witnesses. This defence is required to be considered by the Courts in examining the case.

While the burden of proving the commission of an offence and the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt is on the prosecution, the defence is merely required to create that reasonable doubt.

An alternative version presented by an accused cannot be brushed aside lightly, the Supreme Court said, highlighting that negating the alternative version is the responsibility of the prosecution.

“...once a plausible version has been put forth in defence at the Section 313 CrPC examination stage, then it is for the prosecution to negate such defense plea."
Supreme Court

In the case before the Supreme Court, the appellant had challenged the decision of the Punjab & Haryana High Court to uphold her conviction where she stood accused under Sections 366A and 506 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Section 366A of the IPC deals with the offence of “procuration of a minor girl” while Section 506 of the IPC deals with Criminal intimidation.

The appellant was accused of trying to entice a minor girl into indulging in illicit intercourse with a young man who was said to be the appellant’s tenant. Subsequently, she is alleged to have also threatened the prosecutrix against informing the police of this incident.

During the trial, however, an alternative version was presented before the Trial Court by the appellant where she not only refused the existence of a tenant but also claimed that the case slapped against her was an attempt to exact revenge against her at the behest of a third person.

This testimony was not accepted by the Trial Court which proceeded to convict the appellant and this conviction was affirmed by the High Court bringing the appellant to the Supreme Court in appeal.

In addition to finding the investigation and prosecution’s case to be shoddy, the Supreme Court also noted that the analysis of the Trial Court in supporting the conviction was superficial and based on sweeping generalisations.

Moreover, the non-satisfactory way in which the Section 313, CrPC testimony of the appellant was dealt with by the lower courts was also disapproved of by the Supreme Court which said,

"...the alternate version given by the appellant could not be lightly brushed aside. Her two­part defence, put succinctly, was that first there was no male tenant at all and no one except for her child and mother lived with her, and second, that she was being falsely implicated as vengeance for filing a rape complaint against one Bhola Singh with whom the prosecutrix’s father used to work… the trial Court’s analysis of the appellant’s Section 313 defence ought to have been deeper, before concluding it as being false or untrustworthy."

Therefore, the Court concluded that the prosecution failed to discharge its duty of proving the guilt of the appellant beyond reasonable doubt. As such, the appeal was allowed and the conviction of the appellant set aside. The appellant is acquitted and set free, the Court said.

Read Judgment:

Parminder Kaur vs State of Punjab.pdf
Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news