The term ‘Alibi’ is a Latin term which implies ‘elsewhere’ or ‘somewhere else’.
Alibi is used as a defense in criminal proceedings by the accused against the
commission of the alleged offence. The accused makes this plea in the court so
that he or she can prove his or her innocence that at the commission of the
offence, he or she was in some other place. In general, plea of alibi implies
that the accused was not physically present during the commission of the
offence; he was elsewhere or somewhere else.
Definition of Plea of Alibi
According to Duhaime’s Law Dictionary
Plea of alibi is the defense to a criminal charge to the effect that the accused
was elsewhere that at the scene of the alleged crime.
According to the Criminal Law Desktop of Criminal Procedure
Plea of alibi is different from all other defenses; it is based upon the premise
that the defendant is truly innocent.
Essentials of Plea of Alibi
In general, some of the factors to be adhered are as follows:
1. There must be an allege offence punishable by law.
2. The person making the plea of alibi must be an accused in that offence.
3. It is a plea of defense where the accused states that he or she was
somewhere else at the commission of the offence.
4. The plea must prove beyond reasonable doubt that it was impossible for
the accused to be physically present at the time of the commission of the
5. The plea must be backed by the evidence supporting the claim of the
However, it must be noted that the plea of alibi is not maintainable in all
cases. Some of them are as under:
# This plea of alibi is not maintainable in tort such as defamation,
contributory negligence cases.
# A plea of alibi is not applicable in matrimonial cases such as
divorce, maintenance etc.
# A plea of alibi operates as an exception to the Right of Silence.
Who May Take A Plea of Alibi?
As a general rule, it is the accused of the alleged offence who can take the
plea of alibi. It must be pleaded by the accused that he or she was not
physically present at the time of the commission of the alleged offence.
When To Raise The Plea of Alibi?
It is always wise to raise the plea of alibi as early as possible in the initial
stage of a case. This initial stage could be the stage of framing of charge. But
in some jurisdictions, it may be required by the accused to disclose the defense
prior to the trial.
Section 11 of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872
When facts not otherwise relevant become relevant.—Facts not otherwise relevant
(1) if they are inconsistent with any fact in issue or relevant fact;
(2) if by themselves or in connection with other facts they make the existence
or non-existence of any fact in issue or relevant fact highly probable or
(a) The question is, whether A committed a crime at Calcutta on a certain day.
The fact that, on that day, A was at Lahore is relevant. The fact that, near the
time when the crime was committed, A was at a distance from the place where it
was committed, which would render it highly improbable, though not impossible,
that he committed it, is relevant.
(b) The question is, whether A committed a crime. The circumstances are such
that the crime must have been committed either by A, B, C or D, every fact which
shows that the crime could have been committed by no one else and that it was
not committed by either B, C or D, is relevant.
Section 103 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872
Section 103 of the Evidence Act, 1872 provides for Burden of proof as to
particular fact which states that the burden of proof as to any particular fact
lies on that person who wishes the Court to believe in its existence, unless it
is provided by any law that the proof of that fact shall lie on any particular
Example: the question is, whether A committed a crime at Calcutta on a certain
day. The fact that, on that day, he was at New Delhi is relevant.
1. Lakhan Singh @ Pappu v. The State of NCT of Delhi
In this case, the plea of alibi cannot be equated with a plea of self-defense
and ought to be taken at the first instance and not belatedly at the stage of
defense evidence. In any case, the appellant/accused gives no reason or
explanations for not taking this plea of alibi at the earliest opportunity.
2. Binay Kumar Singh v. The State of Bihar
We must bear in mind that alibi, not an exception (special or general) envisaged
in the Indian Penal Code or any other law. It is only a rule of evidence
recognized in Section 11 of the Evidence Act that facts which are inconsistent
with the fact in issue are relevant.
3. Sahabuddin & Anr v. the State of Assam
Once the court disbelieves the plea of alibi and the accused does not give any
explanation in his statement under Section 313 CrPC, the Court is entitled to
draw an adverse inference against the accused. At this stage, we may refer to
the judgment of this Court in the case ofJitender Kumar v State of Haryana[(2012)
6 SSC 2014], where the Court while disbelieving the plea had drawn an adverse
inference and said that this fact would support the case of the prosecution.
 Supranote 3.
 Delhi HC Crl. Appeal No. 166/1999.
 (1997) 1 SCC 283.
 Criminal Appeal No. 629 of 2010.
Written by: Shubham Mongia