CIVIL, EVIDENCE

PLEA OF ALIBI

SUPREME COURT

The plea of alibi in based on the theory that it is physically impossible for the accused to be present at a particular place at the time of commission of the offence for the reason he was present at the said point of time at another place. It is well settled that for such a plea to succeed, it is incumbent that the accused shows, by evidence, that he was so far away at the relevant point of time that he could not be present at the place alleged by the prosecution. Such a plea rests on the rule of evidence recognized in Section 11 of the Evidence Act rendering facts which are inconsistent with the fact in issue to be relevant. The law on the subject of alibi was succinctly explained by the Supreme Court in Binay Kumar Singh vs. State of Bihar (1997) 1 SCC 283 as under:-

“The Latin word alibi means ‘elsewhere’ and that word is used for convenience when an accused takes recourse to a defence line that when the occurrence took place he was so far away from the place of occurrence that it is extremely improbable that he would have participated in the crime. It is basic law that in a criminal case, in which the accused is alleged to have inflicted physical injury to another person, the burden is on the prosecution to prove that the accused was present at the scene and has participated in the crime. The burden would not be lessened by the mere fact that the accused has adopted the defence of alibi. The plea of the accused in such cases need be considered only when the burden has been discharged by the prosecution satisfactorily. But once the prosecution succeeds in discharging the burden it is incumbent on the accused, who adopts the plea of alibi to prove it with absolute certainty so as to exclude the possibility of his presence at the place of occurrence. When the presence of the accused at the scene of occurrence has been established satisfactorily by the prosecution through reliable evidence, normally the court would be slow to believe any counter evidence to the effect that he was elsewhere when the occurrence happened. But if the evidence adduced by the accused is of such a quality and of such a standard that the court may entertain some reasonable doubt regarding his presence at the scene when the occurrence took place, the accused would no doubt, be a sound proposition to be laid down that in su

ch circumstances, the burden on the accused is rather heavy. It follows, therefore, that strict proof is required for establishing the plea of alibi.”

(emphasis supplied)

144. There can be no quarrel with the proposition that evidence tendered through defence witnesses cannot be appreciated on the assumption that it would generally be tainted. It is trite that defence witnesses are also entitled to equal treatment and equal respect as that of the prosecution on the issues of credibility and trustworthiness. It is also equally well settled that prosecution cannot depend on the weaknesses of the defence since the prime onus to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubts lies at its door.

[see State of Haryana Vs. Ram Singh, (2002) 2 SCC 426; Dudh Nath Pandey vs. The State of U.P., 1981 SCR (2) 771