CrPC, S. 313(1)(b) – Any failure to consider the accused’s explanation of incriminating circumstances, in a given case, may vitiate the trial and/or endanger the conviction.
Held, Is a valuable safeguard in the trial process for the accused to establish his innocence; which is intended to ensure a direct dialogue between the court and the accused, casts a mandatory duty on the court to question the accused generally on the case for the purpose of enabling him to personally explain any circumstances appearing in the evidence against him; when questioned, the accused may not admit his involvement at all and choose to flatly deny or outrightly repudiate whatever is put to him by the court; the accused may even admit or own incriminating circumstances adduced against him to adopt legally recognized defences; an accused can make a statement without fear of being cross-examined by the prosecution or the latter having any right to cross-examine him; the explanations that an accused may furnish cannot be considered in isolation but has to be considered in conjunction with the evidence adduced by the prosecution and, therefore, no conviction can be premised solely on the basis of the section 313 statement(s); statements of the accused in course of examination under section 313, since not on oath, do not constitute evidence under section 3 of the Evidence Act, yet, the answers given are relevant for finding the truth and examining the veracity of the prosecution case; statement(s) of the accused cannot be dissected to rely on the inculpatory part and ignore the exculpatory part and has/have to be read in the whole, inter alia, to test the authenticity of the exculpatory nature of admission; if the accused takes a defence and proffers any alternate version of events or interpretation, the court has to carefully analyze and consider his statements; any failure to consider the accused’s explanation of incriminating circumstances, in a given case, may vitiate the trial and/or endanger the conviction.
CrPC, S. 313 (1) (b), S. 313(5) – In criminal court proceedings, it is the responsibility of the court to carefully review the evidence presented by the prosecution and prepare relevant questions to allow the accused to explain any incriminating circumstances – Prior to the amendment of section 313 in 2009, courts alone were responsible for this task, but the amendment now allows the court to take the assistance of the Public Prosecutor and Defence Counsel in preparing the questions – However, judicial experience has shown that the accused often provide evasive or unhelpful answers, which can harm their case, like with stereotypes like ‘false’, ‘I don’t know’, ‘incorrect’, etc. – Nonetheless, if the accused provides a satisfactory explanation or a different version of events, it can provide the court with a different perspective and have an effect on the final outcome. [Para 16]
CrPC, S. 313 – A proper explanation of one’s conduct or a version different from the prosecution version, without being obliged to face cross-examination, could provide the necessary hint or clue for the court to have a different perspective and solve the problem before it – The exercise under section 313 instead of being ritualistic ought to be realistic in the sense that it should be the means for securing the ends of justice; instead of an aimless effort, the means towards the end should be purposeful – Indeed, it is optional for the accused to explain the circumstances put to him under section 313, but the safeguard provided by it and the valuable right that it envisions, if availed of or exercised, could prove decisive and have an effect on the final outcome, which would in effect promote utility of the exercise rather than its futility. [Para 16]
CrPC, S. 313 – Once the accused files a written statement under sub-section (5) of section 313, it must be treated as part of their statement under sub-section (1) read with sub-section (4) thereof . and considered in the light of the evidence presented by the prosecution – The contents of the statement should be weighed with the probabilities of the case in favor of or against the accused. [Para 17]
CrPC, S. 313(5) – Non-explanation of facts within special knowledge of the accused – Effect of. If facts within the special knowledge of the accused are not satisfactorily explained, that could be a factor against the accused. Though such factor by itself is not conclusive of guilt, it becomes relevant while considering the totality of the circumstances.
IPC , Section 300 Exception 4 – Culpable homicide is not murder if it is committed without premeditation in a sudden fight in the heat of passion upon a sudden quarrel and without the offender having taken undue advantage or acted in a cruel or unusual manner – The explanation thereto clarifies that it is immaterial in such cases which party offers the provocation or commits the first assault. Four requirements must be satisfied to invoke this exception, viz. (i) it was a sudden fight; (ii) there was no premeditation; (iii) the act was done in a heat of passion; and (iv) the assailant had not taken any undue advantage or acted in a cruel or unusual manner. [Para 24]