Author: Parth Jaisinghani, Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad
This article will scrutinize Sec 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973(herewith referred to as CrPC) which talks about accused person examination. This section was imbibed to fulfill the principle of natural justice that is “It is best than ten guilty escape than one innocent suffer” was said by Blackstone. This section also puts light on the very famous maxim “Audi ultra Partum” which says nobody should be punished unheard. This article tries to educate the meaning of Section 313 of CrPC, ways of prosecuting the accused under this section, what points need to be noted while examining, what is noncompliance of this section and what its exception is.
ELUCIDATING THE SECTION 313 OF CRPC
Section 313 of the CrPC 1973 deals with the power to examine the accused. It is enshrined in Chapter XXIV of the Act and has four clauses. Section 313(1) of CrPC deals with when the accused is allowed in a trial or inquiry to explain any circumstance personally to the judge, which is against evidence appearing against him. This clause is further divided into two parts (a) and (b). In part, (a) it is said that may at any stage court be able to ask the accused any question without informing the accused previously which courts find necessary. Part (b) talks about shall be questioned for his defense after witness for the prosecution have been examined. Section 313(2) of CrPC talks about no oath will be taken by the accused during his trial in sub-section (1). Section 313(3) of CrPC talks about accused cannot be punished if he refused to answer any such question of the court or if he is giving a false statement. Section 313(4) of CrPC deals with the answer of the accused may be put against him for any other offense, which he has committed.
Therefore, the main objective of this section is to make the court enable to ask questions to the accused personally without the lawyer’s interference. In this section, the court plays a proactive role that is controlling a situation rather than responding to it to find out the truth of the case. The court does so for the sake of the principle of natural justice. Clause 5 of the act was inserted by the amendment made in the year 2008, which says advocate can interfere in this matter.
CASES THAT HELPED IN REFINING THIS SECTION
Dr. Sunil Clifford Daniel vs State of Punjab in this case court said the accused should be informed that if he does not want to answer the question it is allowed but his incriminating statement will be taken into consideration.
In Basavaraj R. Patil and Others vs. the State of Karnataka and Others, the court said that a missing link can be provided if the accused gives a false answer. The same case also talked about Sec313 (1) (b) of CrPC and said no examination of an advocate can be done but they can give questions that should be asked to the accused. Also, counsel is protected and they cannot be examined.
In the case of Satyavir Singh Rathi vs. State Tr.C.B.I. The court said the statement was given by the accused cannot act as evidence against him under Sec313 (1) (b) of CrPC.
IS THIS SECTION JUST A FORMALITY?
The scope of this section is quite paramount than a mere formality. In the case of Sanatan Naskar and Another vs State of West Bengal, the court said that every piece of evidence against the accused should be put in front of him and the accused person should be given a fair chance to explain them all.
The scope of this section was laid down in the case of Sanatan Naskar and Anr. Vs West Bengal the observation made from this case were a) to help the accused confront or prove himself innocent directly to the court. b) To test and confirm the fact lay down by the prosecution.
The term accused is being defined in the case of Karamalli Gulamalli, which said an accused is a person who is being scrutinized by the court and examined by the court and not a person who is being charged by the same person in another case.
WAYS OF PROSECUTING THE ACCUSED UNDER THIS SECTION
The court can question the accused at any stage of inquiry under section 313(1) of CrPC. Clause 2 talks about no oath to be taken by the accused when he is answering the questions. Now everyone is in a dilemma in which this section was inserted? The reason behind the insertion of this section is to remove mental stress and pressure on the accused and he should be free to say whatever he feels like. When the court is questioning the accused, the question should be backed by incriminating evidence against the accused. The questions need to be logical and clear. While the court is formulating the question, the court should look at the background of the accused that how much he is qualified to make questions understandable to him. Besides, the court has to take extrajudicial care while formulating questions for an illiterate person. This is done because if the vague question is asked so it will not serve the purpose of natural justice.
In the case of Subhash Chand vs the State of Rajasthan, the court said the main objective of asking the questions to accused is that to allow the accused person to tell him the facts are pulling him into the conspiracy and he has an opportunity to defend him.
In the case of Munid Mubar vs the State of Haryana, it was stated that the court must present all incriminating material as well as circumstantial evidence against the accused so as he can explain the same. Further, in the case of Mushir Khan Vs State of Madhya Pradesh, the court elaborated on the meaning of circumstantial evidence.
POINTS TO BE NOTED WHILE EXAMINING THE ACCUSED BASED ON PROSECUTION EVIDENCE:
The accused were involved in the scene.
The role played by the accused in committing the crime.
The main objective of the crime.
Medical evidence revealing anything against him.
Accused of giving an extra-judicial confession.
NON COMPLIANCE OF THIS SECTION
In the case of Gyan Chand vs State of Haryana here for the first time, there was a plea before Supreme Court for noncompliance with this Section. The court said unless the examination is done in a proper and preserves way the court cannot make any prejudiced opinion against the accused.
The Supreme Court told that an accused person cannot accuse a trial judge merely stating the questions asked to him by the authority were “extremely casual and per functioning”. This decision was given by a bench comprising of Justice Navin Sinha and B.R. Gavai. In this case, an appeal was filled by Fainil Khan and Mir Shaukat who were chargers for murder and given a sentence of life imprisonment. They appealed to the apex court and said the trial judge was “extremely casual and perfunctory” while he was examining. Besides, the accused was not given a chance to defend them. So while Supreme Court was answering this question of the law said that they must clearly show that this “no examination has actually and materially prejudiced him and has resulted in the failure of justice”. The court also said that right of a fair trial to be proportionate with the rights of victims and society in a broader was for egalitarianism. The name of the case was Fainil Khan vs. the State of Jharkhand
Section 313 of CrPC gives power to the court to examine the accused. It acts as a shield of protection for the accused. It is personal conservation between the trial court judge and the accused. This stage comes after examining the prosecuting the witness and before the accused is called for his defense. In this section, the accused person does not take an oath and cannot be amount to punishment if he refuses to answer any question or give a false answer.
EXCEPTIONS TO THIS SECTION
Each case is different from one other. Therefore, when the accused had pleaded guilty to the charge then this section should not be taken into consideration. Besides, the court cannot put inquiry when there are not any circumstances appearing against the accused.
In the case of Asray Ali vs the State of Assam, the court said that this section is for the benefit of the accused. It also benefits the court to reach the conclusion and help to serve the fundamentals of natural justice.
Recently the court said, “The circumstance not put to an accused under Section 313 of the CrPC cannot be used against him and must be excluded from consideration, the Supreme Court has observed”. The decision was given by Justice RF Nariman while exonerating a rape accused. The accused was charged by the trial court under section 376 of the Indian Penal Code for “raping a woman on the pretext of marriage”. This decision was upheld by the High Court. Therefore, they appealed to Apex Court in front of a bench having Justice Navin Sinha and Indira Banerjee stating his investigation was very casual and he needs a fair trial under Section 313 of CrPC. The court referred to the case of Naval Kishore Singh vs the State of Bihar and said facts of marring a person, which have ambiguity, has to deal in a limited time of occurrence and cannot be taken over a long period merged with aware constructive action of not protecting it. The name of the case was Maheswar Tigga vs The State of Jharkhand.
Law makes it mandatory to put every piece of evidence in front of the accused, which proves him guilty. Section 313 was inserted for the principle of natural justice and fairness. The accused should always be given a chance to prove him innocent. This section helps an accused to prove him innocent in the eyes of law and helps the judiciary to serve justice in a better way. “It is best than ten guilty escape than one innocent suffer” was said by Blackstone
The Hindu Artice : A trial juge cant be accused of bial merely on nature of questions asked: SC