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Plea of Alibi With Reference To Section 103 of The Indian Evidence Act,1872

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.[1]

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.[2]

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.[3]

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 offence.

5. The plea must be backed by the evidence supporting the claim of the accused.[4]

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 are 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 improbable.

(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.[5]

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 person.

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.[6]

Case Laws:
1. Lakhan Singh @ Pappu v. The State of NCT of Delhi[7]
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[8]
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[9]
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.

[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[6] Supranote 3.
[7] Delhi HC Crl. Appeal No. 166/1999.
[8] (1997) 1 SCC 283.
[9] Criminal Appeal No. 629 of 2010.

Written by: Shubham Mongia

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