17 June 2024


Supreme Court

Jai Prakash Tiwari Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh




Accused is not required to prove his defence beyond a reasonable doubt but only by preponderance of probabilities

The present appeal arises from the judgment passed by the High Court dismissing the Appellant's appeal against judgment passed by the First Additional Sessions Judge, confirming his conviction under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 ('IPC') and Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act, 1959 ('Arms Act').

In the present case, the Courts below failed to scrutinize the defence version put forward by the Appellant-Accused in his statement. The object of Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC) is to establish a direct dialogue between the court and the Accused. The purpose of Section 313 of CrPC is to provide the Accused a reasonable opportunity to explain the adverse circumstances which have emerged against him during the course of trial. A reasonable opportunity entails putting all the adverse evidences in the form of questions so as to give an opportunity to the Accused to articulate his defence and give his explanation.

It is an established principle of criminal law that, the burden of proving the guilt of the Accused beyond reasonable doubt is upon the prosecution. Where an Accused sets up a defence or offers an explanation, it is well-settled that he is not required to prove his defence beyond a reasonable doubt but only by preponderance of probabilities. Further, it has been held by this Court in Parminder Kaur v. State of Punjab, that "once a plausible version has been put forth in defence at the Section 313 of CrPC examination stage, then it is for the prosecution to negate such defence plea".

Moreover, it is the solemn duty of the Courts below to consider the defence of the Accused. The same must be considered with caution and must be scrutinised by application of mind by the judge. The Court may accept or reject the same; however it cannot be done cursorily. The reasoning and the application of mind must be reflected in writing. However, in present case, Courts below have failed to undertake this solemn duty. Rather, the evidence of the Accused has been dealt by the Court in a casual manner.

When there is absence of independent evidence corroborating the statements made by complainant, serious doubts regarding the recovery of the alleged motorcycle and the country made pistol, no connection proved between the alleged recovered items and the alleged incident, and the plausible version put forward by the Accused-Appellant in his Section 313 statement has not been satisfactorily responded to by the prosecution, the case against the Accused-Appellant cannot be sustained.

It is the duty of the Court to separate the grain from the chaff and to extract the truth from the mass of evidence. The case of the prosecution is based on mere conjectures and surmises. The High Court and the trial Court failed to consider the circumstances while rendering the judgment convicting the Accused. The evidence brought on record by the prosecution is insufficient to prove the case against the Appellant beyond reasonable doubt. The conviction and sentence passed against the Appellant are set aside. Appeal allowed.

Tags : Conviction Evidence Credibility

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