PLEA OF ALIBI
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PLEA OF ALIBI

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 13-Sep-2023

Introduction

  • Alibi is a Latin word which means elsewhere or at some other place.
  • The plea of Alibi signifies that the accused pleads before the court of his presence elsewhere at the time of commission of crime.

Concept Under the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (IEA)

  • The concept of Alibi is not defined under the law, but it is impliedly enshrined under Section 11(1) of the IEA which is a residuary provision.
  • Section 11 deals with when facts not otherwise relevant become relevant. It states that –

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.

  • It means that the facts which are irrelevant become relevant when they form the existence or non-existence of any fact in issue or relevant fact highly certain or uncertain.

Illustration

(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.

Who Can Take the Plea

  • As a general rule of practice, the plea is taken by the accused.

When Can the Plea Be Raised

  • It is always advisable to raise the plea of alibi at the earliest possible opportunity i.e., during the initial stage of the case.
  • This initial stage could be the stage of framing of charge but not later than the stage of defense evidence.

Upon Whom the Burden of Proof Lies

  • The burden of proof lies upon the accused and the relevant provision is Section 103 of IEA.
  • Section 103 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.

Illustration

(a) A prosecutes B for theft and wishes the Court to believe that B admitted the theft to C. A must prove the admission.

Plea of Alibi in Relation to Co-accused

  • Where Plea of alibi is accepted in favor of a co-accused, by no means it can be equated to acceptance in favor of the accused.

Case Laws

  • In Binay Kumar and others v. State of Bihar (1996), the Supreme Court stressed upon the fact that the burden of prosecution to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt is not reduced by the mere facts that accused has resorted the plea of Alibi. The plea needs to be considered only when the prosecution has discharged its burden satisfactorily.
  • In Jayantibhai Bhenkerbhai v. State of Gujarat (2002), It was held that the burden of proof upon the accused under Section 103 is undoubtedly heavy. However, while considering the prosecution and the defense evidence if the balance tilts in favor of the accused. The prosecution would fail, and the accused would get the benefit.

When the Plea of Alibi Is Not Maintainable

  • Plea of Alibi is not maintainable in certain circumstances, some of which are enumerated below:
    • In cases of torts such as defamation, contributory negligence etc.
    • In matrimonial cases such as divorce, maintenance etc.
    • Where the case is related to common intention, all who had common intention are liable, irrespective of the fact whether they were present at the scene of occurrence or not.

Conclusion

  • To sum up, we should be aware of the fact that the Plea of Alibi is based upon facts inconsistent with any fact in issue or relevant fact.
  • Plea of Alibi is not part of General Exception under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) rather it is a rule of evidence and the burden upon accused.