The expression ‘Alibi’ is a Latin word which means ‘elsewhere’ or ‘somewhere else’. In judicial proceedings alibi is seen as a means of defense for the victims against the execution of a suspected crime. When an accused makes a plea of alibi in a court he or she seeks to show that moment the alleged offence was committed, he or she at some other place. A statement of alibi usually means that the perpetrator was physically not present at the location and time of the committing of an offence while he was actually somewhere else.
Alibi plea is not an exemption granted under IPC or any other law, but it is a rule of evidence recognised under Section 11 Of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 hereinafter referred to as IEA; however, said rule is in conflict with Relevancy of fact.
The intention of adding an alibi plea was to insure that an innocent individual could not be persecuted, and he should have the opportunity to raise his defense; that he may explain why, at the moment of the commission of offence, he was not at all present on the scene of crime, but today, in almost every criminal trial, the person accused of major crimes uses this plea as a general protection, to get himself out of the trial.
By using this doctrine, some notorious elements of society think that this rule of evidence enables them to escape from being charged for their responsibilities. But raising false plea has its consequences too.
ESSENTIALS OF ALIBI:
- There needs to be an act done;
- this act must constitute an offence punished under the law
- That facts of such suspected act/offence are not sufficient to establish the guilt of accused (inconsistent with other details in issue and relevant facts).
- The said chain of facts make the anticipation of alleged accused in commission or non-commission of an alleged offence, at the relevant point of time, probable or improbable.
In summary – The plea must prove beyond any reasonable doubt, so as to say- it was unlikely for the accused to be physically involve at the crime scene.
SECTIONS DEALING WITH PLEA OF ALIBI:
Plea of alibi is a rule of evidence acknowledged under Section 11 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
“When facts not otherwise relevant become relevant: facts otherwise not relevant are relevant
- If they are inconsistent with any fact in issue or relevant fact;
- If by themselves or in connection with other facts they make the existence or non-existence of any fact in issue all relevant fact highly probable or improbable.”
Furthermore, Section 103 of the Evidence Act provides for the burden of proof as to particular fact which states that the burden of proof as to any particular fact lies with that person who wishes the Court to believe in its existence, unless it is provided by any law that the proof of that fact lies with any individual.
Example: the problem is, whether A committed a crime on a given day at Calcutta. The fact on that day, he was in New Delhi is important.
BURDEN OF PROOF
The prosecution will have to prove at the outset that the accused was present at the crime scene and his involvement was in the crime there. After the burden is discharged by the prosecution, it is up to the accused to assert his innocence, which could be through the Alibi’s plea.
Once the accused takes the plea of alibi pursuant to the Evidence Act, there is a burden of proof on the accused to prove that he was at some other location and not at the site where the crime took place. While taking the plea, the accused must take care of the fact that the defense of alibi he/his has taken is proven with certainty, in order to completely exclude the possibility of his/her presence at the place of occurrence of crime.
In Nirmal Singh and Ors. vs. State of Haryana, it was held that the alibi’s plea is a double-edged weapon. If the accused fails to prove the plea of alibi, his presence at the spot cannot be excluded. But this does not mean that if the accused fails to prove his alibi plea then such failure would result in prosecution’s case being successful as the prosecution will have to prove his case independently beyond reasonable doubt. If the accused manages to prove his alibi plea beyond certainty, then he will be acquitted.
NEGATIVE IMPACTS OF USING FALSE ALIBIS:
It’s quick to make plea of alibi but proving an alibi is quite other thing.
- In certain instances, there might be material facts such as videotapes, audio recordings, documents and receipts that undermines the plea of alibi. This proof will turn the whole case upside down by creating scepticism in the mind of the judges.
- What if the person making an alibi plea influences the witness in his favour. The witness may give false ailbi in the process, thus leading to an obstruction of justice.
- By making a false alibi, its value is diminished and the judge or jury may draw adverse inferences from the alibi.
- A false alibi is not only untrue but also intended creation by the accused to mislead and deceive the judiciary.
To sum up, it can be reiterated that just if the accused takes the excuse of alibi, the same in no manner diminishes the probability of the accused committing the crime or dispenses with the burden of proof on the accused justify his alibi. The accused must prove his alibi plea beyond any reasonable doubt and with strong supporting. Only will court accept it in a criminal trial. Needless to say, that the prosecution will have to prove independently that the accused committed the offence since according to the law in India, an accused is generally “presumed innocent until proven guilty”.
Therefore, it is not necessary for the accused to raise the alibi plea until and unless the prosecution discharged its burden of proving the accused guilty. If the prosecution has failed to prove the accused’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt, then proving his defense of the plea of alibi won’t be important to the accused. Even once the prosecution has discharged his burden then it is necessary for the accused to justify his case for alibi and show that proving the fact that he wasn’t present at the place where the crime was committed.
Ultimately, it will be on the court to measure who has more weightage – the prosecution side in proving the guilt or the defense side in proving the innocence of the accused. There is also more pressure on the accused to prove his innocence through the defense raised by him. If the accused succeeds in proving only a part of his defense, court will shift its inclination in favor of the accused.
Author: Kunal Gupta,
Jagran lakecity University