Premchand vs. State of Maharashtra
Crl Appeal No. 211 of 2023
The appellant was convicted for murder by the Sessions Court and the HC had upheld the verdict.
The prosecution had primarily relied upon 2 witnesses who were in the group that scuffled with the appellant.
The Supreme Court, summarised the importance of Section 313 of the CrPC: -
1. Section 313, Cr. P.C. [clause (b) of sub-section 1] is a valuable safeguard in the trial process for the accused to establish his innocence;
2. S. 313, which is intended to ensure a direct dialogue between the court and the accused, casts a mandatory duty on court to question the accused generally on the case for the purpose of enabling him to personally explain any circumstances appearing in the evidence against him;
3. When questioned, the accused may not admit his involvement at all and choose to flatly deny or outrightly repudiate whatever is put to him by the court;
4. The accused may even admit or own incriminating circumstances adduced against him to adopt legally recognized defences;
5. An accused can make a statement without fear of being cross-examined by the prosecution or the latter having any right to cross-examine him;
6. The explanations that an accused may furnish cannot be considered in isolation but has to be considered in conjunction with the evidence adduced by the prosecution and, therefore, no conviction can be premised solely on the basis of the section 313 statement(s);
7. Statements of the accused in course of examination under section 313, since not on oath, do not constitute evidence under section 3 of the Evidence Act, yet, the answers given are relevant for finding the truth and examining the veracity of the prosecution case;
8. Statement(s) of the accused cannot be dissected to rely on the inculpatory part and ignore the exculpatory part and has/have to be read in the whole, inter alia, to test the authenticity of the exculpatory nature of admission;
9. If the accused takes a defence and proffers any alternate version of events or interpretation, the court has to carefully analyze and consider his statements;
10. Any failure to consider the accused’s explanation of incriminating circumstances, in a given case, may vitiate the trial and/or endanger the conviction.
The Court said that the Courts below did not pay adequate attention to the accused person's statement u/s 313 CrPC wherein he had explained the inculpatory circumstances.
SC changed the conviction from S. 302 to S. 304-II and sentenced the appellant to period already undergone.