Section 313 (1) (b) of CrPC obligates a trial court, after the prosecution evidence is complete, to question the accused “generally on the case…for the purpose of enabling the accused personally to explain any circumstances appearing in the evidence against him”.
The product of this exercise is generally referred to as ‘Section 313 Statement’, the purpose of which is to meet the requirement of natural justice/audi alteram partem. (No-one should be condemned unheard)
Every material circumstance in the prosecution evidence against the accused must be put to her specifically, distinctly and separately, and she must be given an opportunity to explain the same.
Conviction of the accused cannot be based on such circumstance which: either was not put to her for her explanation or was reasonably & properly explained by her and such explanation was not effectively considered by the trial court.
Ideally, the trial court is bound to disregard every such material circumstance in the prosecution evidence from consideration which was not put to the accused at the time of Section 313 Statement.
However, not every such omission of material circumstance by the trial court at the time of Section 313 Statement will vitiate the trial, unless it can be shown that such omission has resulted in any prejudice to the case of the accused.
Guest post by Sholab Arora, Advocate, Delhi High Court & P&H High Court.
i. Tara Singh v. State, AIR 1951 SC 441
ii. Shivaji Sahabrao Bobade v. State of Maharashtra, (1973) 2 SCC 793
iii. S. Harnam Singh v. State (Delhi Admin.), (1976) 2 SCC 819
iv. Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra, (1984) 4 SCC 116
v. Ajay Singh v. State of Maharashtra, (2007) 12 SCC 341
vi. Asraf Ali v. State of Assam, (2008) 16 SCC 328
vii. Sujit Biswas v. State of Assam, (2013) 12 SCC 406
viii. Samuel Hasque v. State of Assam, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1093