ALIBI – Defence or Escape?

Essentials of plea of alibi? How can one raise the said plea? What is the correct time to raise the plea? The onus of proving the plea lies to whom? What if a person succeeded in proving the plea? Taking false Plea of alibi is a good defense to escape from criminal trials or lead to serious consequences?

You all might have come across with all these questions, So, let’s get into some basics of it.


The word Alibi’ is a Latin term which means ‘elsewhere’. Plea of alibi is not an exception provided under IPC or any other law rather it is a rule of evidence recognized under section 11 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (hereinafter referred as IEA), However, said rule is in conflict with Relevancy of facts/ facts in issue.

The purpose of introducing plea of alibi was to make sure that an innocent person should not be convicted, and he should be given the right to raise his defense; where he could explain that at the time of commission of offence he was not at all present at crime scene, but, nowadays, in almost every criminal trial, the person accused of major offences takes this plea as a general defense, to get himself out of the trial.

By using this doctrine, some notorious elements of society think that this rule of evidence allows them to escape their liability from being charged. But raising false plea has its repercussions too.

Essentials of Alibi :

1. There must be an act done;

2. Said act must constitute an offence, punishable under the law

3. That facts of such alleged act/offence are not certain to establish the guilt of accused (inconsistent with any facts in issue and relevant facts) e.g A was charged for the offence of murder but from the facts in hand it was found that case was of suicide.

4. The said chain of facts make the anticipation of alleged accused in commission or non-commission of an alleged offence, at the relevant point of time, probable or improbable.

In brief – ‘The plea must prove beyond any reasonable doubt, so as to say- it was impossible for the accused to be physically present at the crime scene’.

Ref. Sec 11 IEA, Bare Act illustration:

“The question is, whether A committed a crime at Calcutta on a certain day. The fact that, on that day, A was at Lahore is relevant. The fact that, near the time when the crime was committed, A was at a distance from the place where it was committed, which would render it highly improbable, though not impossible, that he committed it, is relevant”.

As per aforesaid illustration- the presence of A at the place of the incident is highly improbable and also the time when it was committed made it impossible for the accused to travel at the place far distant from his place;


If, on the other hand, A was nearby the place of the incident i.e., at Calcutta itself. Then his presence at the place of commission of offence in that circumstance may become probable.

Thus, it is therefore essential for the person establishing the ground of plea of Alibi that he was too far from the place of the incident and also he could in no Manner commit the alleged offence.

Correct Time to Raise The Plea?

There is no particular time as such prescribed in the Act for taking such plea but in order to make it more effective one should take this plea at the earliest possible time (in the initial stage of proceedings) i.e., at the stage of charge framing or during inquiry proceeding which means before the trial begins. Taking such plea at later stage may create suspicion in the mind of a judge. However, there is no such rule provided as such.

Further, plea of alibi is not maintainable in tort and matrimonial proceedings i.e., defamation suit, suit for maintenance, divorce cases.

Onus of Proving- Plea of Alibi?

Section 103 of IEA clearly provides the onus of proving the alibi i.e., the onus lies on the person who wishes the court to believe in its existence i.e., the accused.

What if Accused is able to prove the Alibi?

If accused is able to prove the Alibi, he will either be acquitted or discharged but he has to prove the said alleged fact beyond reasonable doubt, and the court has to be very cautious in taking the evidences on record as one wrong step would end up the case in guilty judgement.

For instance: B has been murdered in Delhi. And, for the offence of murder of B, police arrested A. At the stage of framing of charge A takes a plea that he was not in Delhi at the time of commission of offence rather he was in hotel at Mumbai and showed the hotel and flight tickets.

In present case, by mere showing the hotel and flight tickets are not sufficient to discharge the burden satisfactorily rather there must be some other cogent evidences, which has to be taken into consideration by the court while deciding the matter i.e.,

Examination of Witnesses, If any
Examine the Conduct of Accused (Previous/Subsequent),
Motive, if Established, in association with other circumstantial evidences,
Discovery Statement etc…

Consequences of Taking False Plea?

Taking false flea has serious repercussions as whoever uses the said plea just to escape from the liability, will be charged for the offence of giving false evidence and also for misleading the court. Moreover, his credibility in the case will get diminished, further, the judge may draw a negative inference against him as taking false plea may turn out the whole case and divert the process, due to which the investigation may get affected which ultimately leads to a wrong judgement.

Relevant Case Laws;

Dudh Nath Pandey V/s State of UP,1981,SC
Lakhan Singh@Pappu V/s The state of NCT of Delhi
Binay Kumar Singh V/s The State of Bihar,1997, SC
Sahabuddin & ors V/s The State of Assam

I hope, this blog will help you to understand the concept of ‘ALIBI’ and if you like this blog, please let me know in the comment section below.

About author- 

This blog is authored by Akshaya Kaushik, he is a Lawyer by profession and also a teacher and blogger.

Also Read – Plea Bargaining in the Indian Criminal Justice System.

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