Role of section 313 criminal procedure code in evidence law.

Relation of sec 313crpc with Indian evidence act.

Section 313 CRPC is an aspect of inquisitorial proceedings ie. the judge also participates in the proceedings to satisfy himself regarding the truthfulness of the evidence produced. Section 313 is a pure personal examination of the accused by the court itself and it is an aspect of the principles of natural justice. The purpose of the examination declared in section 313 itself is to enable the accused to personally explain the evidence that has been proved against him. It is one to one examination by the court of the accused and the lawyer shall not intervene at the time of examination.
Section 313(1)(a) uses the word ‘may’ and thus enables the court to examine the accused at any stage. It is implicit that such examination shall take place only after at least one or some evidence has been produced by the prosecution.

Section 313(1)(b) uses the word ‘shall’ and therefore makes it mandatory for the court to examine the accused after the prosecution evidence is over and before the defense evidence starts. It is mandatory in all cases.

As per section 313(1)proviso if the court has dispensed with the personal appearance of the accused in a summon case then the court also has the discretion to dispense with his personal examination u/s313.Such dispensation in the summons case can be done u/s 205 crpc or u/s 317 crpc. The discretion lies with the court to dispense or not to dispense with the examination in such cases.

However, in warrant cases, the court can dispense with the personal appearance u/s 317 crpc but it cannot dispense with the personal examination u/s 313. It will rather have to summon the accused even in such cases for the purpose of the examination u/s 313.

Why not on oath?

An oath is not administered in such examination. The purpose of this section is :
1) To give full freedom to the accused to make whatever reply he wants. Oath will create fear in the mind of the accused that he may get prosecuted for forgery or false evidence if he didn’t reply correctly. The examination should be spontaneous and the essence of section 313 lies in that fact. The administration of oath would defeat that very purpose of section 313crpc.

2) If the oath is administered then the opposite party will get a right if cross-examination which would not be proper as the very purpose of sec 313 is to have a pure personal examination of the accused by the court.

3) If the oath were administered then a kind of compulsion will apply upon the accused to give the answer and to give the correct answer. Here that would have resulted in an internal conflict us 313 itself and would have defeated the object of section 313.

After the 2009 amendment.

The 2009 amendment now provides for the power of the court to give written questions and to obtain written answers in all cases irrespective of whether the personal attendance of the accused has been dispensed with or not. Harmony has to be withdrawn b/w the requirement of overburdening the court and the requirement of the spontaneous personal examination of the accused. In ordinary cases, the court can always serve written questions to the accused but in those cases where it is believed that the exof section 313 is important for the proper decision of the case then it always has the discretion to examine the accused in person.

Evidentiary value of section 313 CRPC.

There are certain cases where it is held that with respect to the same trial and inquiry the examination of sec313 cannot form a substantive piece of evidence rather the only role that it can play is to provide indicative evidence to complete the chain of circumstances evidence. Example: If the court finds that the chain of circumstantial evidence is almost completed but still there is some gap or some missing link the court can take into consideration the answers given by the accused and if the answers are logically trustworthy and they provide a reasonable explanation to some of the evidence then the court may give the benefit of doubt to the accused. However, if it finds that the accused does not have any rational explanation then the missing link will be said to have been filled. ie. the court may draw an extra assurance for itself and may convict the accused.
However, it has been clarified that section 313 cannot create a substantive piece of evidence in same the same trial.

Introduction And History Of Indian Evidence ACT,1872

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