Plea of Alibi
It is the plea of absence of person, charged with an offence, from the place of occurrence at the time of the commission of the offence is called the plea of alibi. The term “Alibi “is a Latin word which means – elsewhere or somewhere else. In criminal law this plea is used by accused against the commission of an alleged offence. When the accused pleads the alibi in court of law he or she attempts to prove that he or she is somewhere else at the time when the offence is committed. In other words, it simply tells us that the accused was not physically present at the crime scene. It is basic law that in criminal case, the burden is on the accused to prove that the he was not present at the scene and has not participated in the crime (Section 103 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872). In order to establish the plea of alibi the accused must lead evidence to show that he was so far off at the moment of the crime from the place of occurrence that he could not have committed the offence. Section 11 of Indian Evidence Act, 1872 is related with the Plea of Alibi.
Illustration – A is accused of B’s murder on a particular date at Kanpur. On that day A was at Pune, is relevant to prove the plea of Alibi. Now A will prove that it would be impossible for him to commit murder at Kanpur as he was in Pune.
Who may take a plea of alibi?
Generally, the accused of an alleged offence takes the plea of alibi. The accused must plead his presence elsewhere at the time of the commission of alleged offence.
When to raise the plea of alibi?
In order for the plea to be successful and effective it is always advisable to make the plea at the earliest or in the initial stage of case: this stage could be at the stage of framing of charge or at preliminary hearing.
Failure to establish Alibi – Failure on the part of accused to establish plea of alibi does not help the prosecution and it cannot be held that the accused was present at the crime scene, the prosecution must prove it by positive evidence. Thus, mere failure on the part of the accused to establish the plea of alibi shall not lead to an inference that the accused was present at the crime scene.
Binay Kumar Singh v. The State of Bihar, (1997) 1 SCC 283
It was held that Plea of alibi is not an exception (special or general) enumerated in the Indian Penal Code or any other law. It is rule of evidence provided in Section 11 of Indian Evidence Act that fact which are inconsistent with the fact in issue are relevant.
Dudh Nath Pandey v. State of U.P – (1981) 2 SCC 166
The Plea of Alibi was explained by Apex court as –
The plea of alibi states that the physical impossibility of the presence of the accused at the crime scene by reason of his presence at another place. The plea can therefore succeed only if it is shown that the accused was so far away that he could not be present at the place where the alleged crime was committed.
Is Alibi A Good Defence?
- The purpose of alibi is not to establish or prove anything but merely to raise a doubt in the mind of judge that accused was not present at the crime scene.
- If this plea was made at initial proceedings accompanied with strong and independent evidences then there are more chances of acquittal or discharge of accused.
- Circumstantial evidence to establish alibi does not guarantee its acknowledgment by the court.
- The plea of alibi is not affirmative defence in the sense that it is an assertion to raise a reasonable doubt as to whether the accused is actually a wrongdoer.