Criminal Trident Pack: IPC, CrPC and IEA by Sr. Adv. G.S Shukla and Adv. Raghav Arora
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  • The Supreme Court observed that when examining an accused under Section 313 CrPC, all adverse evidence must be presented in the form of questions so that the accused can articulate his defence and give his explanation. 
  • "If all the circumstances are bundled together and the accused is given only one opportunity to explain himself, he may not be able to put forth a rational and intelligible explanation," the bench of CJI NV Ramana, Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli observed. 
  • The court clarified that such an omission does not vitiate the trial ipso facto unless the accused fails to prove that grave prejudice was caused to him.
  • The court was hearing an appeal filed by an accused who had been convicted concurrently under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 ('IPC') and Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act, 1959. 
  • According to the prosecution case against the accused, he and his co-accused went to the complainant's house and called him outside. When the complainant came out, the appellant fired a countrymade pistol at him. 
  • To convict the accused, the trial court relied on the testimony of the deceased's mother. In its decision on the appeal, the Supreme Court noted that related witness statements should be scrutinised more closely. The bench concluded after reading the statement that it does not inspire confidence.
  • The court also noted that in his Section 313 statement, the accused stated that he and the complainant belonged to opposing student parties and that he was falsely implicated in the matter due to the animosity surrounding the elections. 
  • He also produced two witnesses who stated that he was in his village because his mother was ill. It was also brought to the Court's attention that the complainant's father, sister, and brother were all members of the police force. 
  • Referring to the Trial Court and High Court judgments, the bench observed that they failed to scrutinise the accused's defence version in Section 313 statement.
  • Section 313 of CrPC provides an accused with a valuable right to establish his innocence and can be viewed as a constitutional right to a fair trial under Article 21 of the Constitution. 
  • Section 313's purpose is to give the accused a reasonable opportunity to explain the adverse circumstances that have emerged against him during the trial. 
  • If all of the circumstances are bundled together and the accused is only given one chance to explain himself, he may be unable to provide a rational and intelligible explanation. 
  • Such exercises that undermine equal opportunity are nothing more than a waste of time. Section 313's goal is to create a direct dialogue between the court and the accused.
     
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