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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.
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.
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.
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,
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.