This Article is written by Shruthi Reddy L (a 2nd- year student from Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Legislative Law (BBA LLB).)
Table of Contents
The word Alibi is originated from Latin which means somewhere else or elsewhere. The Plea of Alibi is used as a defence in Criminal Law when a crime is committed by the accused, it is used against the commission of that alleged crime. The Plea of Alibi is used when at the commission of the crime, the absence of time when committed by the accused, the accused is convicted of the offence at the incident where the commission of the crime took place. In order to prove the guilt of the accused, it is known that he should be proven guilty beyond reasonable guilt and the burden of proof lies on the prosecution. Whereas while using Alibi as defence, the primitive rule is that the burden of proof lies on the accused. It is the responsibility of the accused to prove that he was absent from the place where the commission of the crime took place. He should prove that he was absent and was not involved in the crime which is according to the provisions of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. Section 11 of the Indian Evidence Act,1872 deals with the Plea of Alibi. It explains the role of the accused in proving his absence from the crime scene.
Requisites of the Alibi-
The accused of an offence is a person who can take the plea of alibi as a defence. The accused must establish his presence elsewhere while the commission of the crime took place. There are certain essentials for claiming the plea of Alibi as a defence. They are explained as follows –
- The person arguing Alibi must be convicted of some crime.
- It should be felony which is punishable by the statute.
- It must be a defensive plea, as the person claiming the plea of Alibi as defence is claiming to present at a different place.
- The claim made by the accused must be proved beyond reasonable doubt that at the time of offence, the accused was physically present somewhere else.
- The petition must be filed by the offender
- There must be proof on behalf of the defendant’s argument.
These are the various requisites for taking the plea of alibi as a defence. When a false plea of alibi is made by the accused, the investigation process changes and the court becomes more vigilant.
Burden of Proof –
For proving a person guilty, his guilt must be proved beyond reasonable doubt of the accused. In criminal procedures, the burden of proof usually lies on the prosecution. For taking the plea of Alibi as defence, the burden of proof lies on the accused and not the prosecution. In the beginning, it has to be shown that the accused was present at the scene of the crime and that there his involved in the crime by the prosecution. After the prosecution does so, there is discharge in the burden of proof for the prosecution. According to the Evidence Act, when the accused takes the plea of Alibi as defence, the accused has to show proof that he was at some other location and not at the place where the crime happened. The accused has to exclude the possibility of him being at the crime scene. In the case of Nirmal Singh & Ors vs The State of Haryana, it was held that the Plea of Alibi is a double-edged weapon. In the failure of the accused to prove his plea of alibi, his presence at a crime scene cannot be ruled out. But if the accused proves his plea beyond certainty then the accused will be acquitted.
Alibi as Defence –
The reliability of the witness can either strengthen or weaken the defence to a great extent based on the witness testimony of an Alibi Defence. The Judge or the Jury who decides whether the defendant is guilty or not has to trust and believe the witness who testifies that the accused was not present at the scene of the crime. The Family and Friends of Defendant can testify to the Judge about the Alibi. It is upon the sole discretion of the Judge who may wonder if the family and friends of defendants would lie, to believe whatever they say. But the Judge can always question the credibility of the witness which will be testified by the friends and family members of the defendant. This could likewise weaken the alibi defence, though the defence may not abandon it. The Alibi Defence can be strengthened if the witness is someone who is not close to the defendant. The testimony which is given usually by more than one person can also strengthen the Alibi given as defence.
Photos, Video footage, Swipe card records, GPS or phone records are considered to be the strongest alibi evidence as their credibility isn’t questioned. It is moreover not dependent on the witness. This witness however directly doesn’t free the defendant as the dates and accuracy of the records of the videos is questioned whether the alibi given true beyond doubt. For raising the Alibi as Defence, the defendant is supposed to inform the prosecution before the trial of the alibi defence. It should be done within a certain period of time, failure of which will prevent the defendant the presenting the defence at the trial.
A person is considered to be innocent until he is proved that he is guilty. This is the principle that is followed according to the law in India. With reliable evidence and beyond a reasonable doubt, the accused using Alibi as a defence must justify his plea. Because the defendant argues about his Alibi, the likelihood of the defendant committing the crime reduces to some extent but only after it is proved. It is not mandatory for the accused to lift the alibi plea, once the prosecution discharges the burden of finding the accused guilty. But if the prosecution discharges its duty, then it is relevant for the accused to exhibit that he was not present at the place where the crime occurred. But if the prosecution fails to establish the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt, then it is not required for the accused to prove his alibi. At the end of the day, it is the court that measures whether the prosecution side or the accused side has more value. The Prosecution has to prove the guilt of the accused and the accused has to prove that he is innocent. The burden is usually more on the accused to prove his innocence through the defence which will be raised by him.
 Nirmal Singh & Ors vs The State of Haryana 2013 SCC OnLine P&H 17412