Plea of Alibi under the Indian Evidence Act
The Latin word ‘Alibi’ actually means ‘elsewhere’. The given terminology is put to use when the accused takes the appeal that when the incident took place, he was at some other place. Under such a situation, the prosecution ought to discharge the burden adequately. Once the prosecution is favourable in discharging the burden, it is obligatory on the accused who takes the place of alibi to prove it with absolute certainty. An alibi is not an exception conceptualized or contemplated in the IPC or any other law. It is an actual rule of manifestation accepted and acknowledged by Section 11 of the Evidence Act that facts conflicting with fact in issue are pertinent.
However, it cannot be the sole circumstance or sole link to bare conviction. When one fact is essential to the inference of guilt of the accused, but considerably missing in the chain of incidental proof, the prosecution case certainly will fail. As an alibi the relevance of which is totally inconsistent with the hypothesis that the accused had committed an offence.
When an accused takes the plea of alibi, the sole strain and responsibility of proof remains on him as per section 103 of this Act. In case, a person is accused of murder, he himself has to prove that he was somewhere else. The petition of alibi has to be taken as early as possible and it has to be confirmed to the fulfilment of the court.
Where a purported offence has been committed and the prosecution accuses a person of having done the same it would be a complete answer to the allegation for that person to appeal that he was at that time somewhere else; this has, of course, no reference to breach in which place and time are not material factors; and if that person thrives in authenticating that plea technically called the plea of alibi he will be designated to an acquittal. The reason is that what may appear on examination of the defence evidence alone to be proved may turn out not to be so, observed in the light of proof to the contrary affirmed by the prosecution.
When to raise the plea of alibi?
In order for a plea of alibi to be valid, it is always wise to make the plea at the earliest possible time in the initial stages of a case; this stage could be at the stage of fabricating of charge or introductory hearing. Sill, in some jurisdictions, there may be a necessity that the accused reveal a defence prior to the trial. On the contrary, jurists in other jurisdictions have held a belief that the binding early revelations of alibis are unfair, possibly even unconstitutional.
Lakhan Singh @ Pappu vs The State of NCT of Delhi, Delhi HC Crl Appeal No. 166/1999
The appeal of alibi cannot be balanced with a plea of self-defence and ought to be taken at the first occurrence and not belatedly at the stage of defence evidence. In any situation, the accused/appellant provides no reason or explanations for not taking this plea of alibi at the earliest moment or time.
Binay Kumar Singh vs The State of Bihar, (1997) 1 SCC 283
We must make it very clear in our mind that alibi, not an exception (special or general) anticipated and imagined in the Indian Penal Code or any other law. It is only a rule of clues and proofs accepted and identified in Section 11 of the Evidence Act that facts which are contradictory with the fact in issue are appropriate for the purpose.
(a) When the defence of alibi fails-
Failure on the part of accused to build up the plea of alibi does not aid the prosecution and it cannot be held that the accused was present at the scene of an accident, the prosecution ought to prove it by positive proofs. Thus the mere misstep on the part of the accused in order to set up the plea of alibi, shall not lead to an assumption that the accused was present at the scene at that particular time.
(b) No connection of husband to demonstrate the illegitimacy of the child:
Since the legitimacy of the child indicates a cohabitation between husband and wife. For proving false the validity, the husband has to prove that he had no cohabitation with his wife during the probable time of begetting as he was abroad.
(c) Survival of the asserted deceased:
Assuming that ‘A’ is accused of murdering ‘В’ on 20th August 1996 in Delhi. But ‘A’ tried to explain and led evidence to show that ‘В’ was alive on 27th December 2004. Both of these facts are admissible under section 11 only because these are not consistent with one another.
(d) The occurrence of an offence by a third person:
Assuming that ‘A’ is accused of the murder of ‘B’. ‘A’ leads clues for confirmation that ‘В’ was murdered by ‘C’. This is justifiable being contradictory with fact in issue.
(e) Self-infliction of harm:
Assuming that ‘A’ is accused of the murder of ‘B’. ‘A’ manages to prove that ‘В’ had committed suicide. The evidence would be considered as admissible.
(f) Non-execution of document:
Assuming that ‘A’ files a suit for restoration of possession against ‘В’ asserting that he has purchased the land. ‘В’ on the other hand leads to evidence that the deed of sale was not executed as yet. The fact is relevant.