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SC: All Adverse Evidences u/s 313 CrPC Should be Put as Questions; Avoid Bundling Circumstances Together with Only Single Opportunity to Explain

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SUPREME COURT LAW INSIDER

Shashwati Chowdhury

Published on: August 5, 2022 at 19:57 IST

In acquitting a man in an attempted murder case that the defence claimed was entirely based on the complainant’s testimony and “hearsay evidence” of his mother, the Supreme Court said that courts have a solemn duty to “separate the grain from the chaff” and guard against cursory consideration of an accused’s defence.

A Bench led by Chief Justice N V Ramana set aside the appellant Jai Prakash Tiwari’s conviction and sentence in a case challenging the Madhya Pradesh High Court’s May 2017 verdict that had dismissed his appeal against the trial court order holding him guilty in an attempt-to-murder case.

The Bench, which also comprised Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli, observed that the prosecution’s case was based on “mere conjectures and surmises” and that the court had dealt the accused’s evidence casually.

The apex court stated that Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) is meant to give the accused a reasonable opportunity to justify any adverse circumstances that may have come to light against him during the course of the trial, noting that it is the “duty of the court to separate the grain from the chaff and to extract truth from the mass of evidence.”

The bench observed that it is a well-established legal principle that a close relative cannot be characterized as an automatically “interested” witness.

According to the Bench, Section 313 of the CrPC, a reasonable opportunity means presenting all of the adverse evidence in the form of questions to give the accused an opportunity to articulate his defence and provide an explanation.