The word “Alibi” is derived from Latin which means “elsewhere” or “somewhere else”. It is used as a defence by the person who is accused, in criminal proceedings. When the accused makes a plea of alibi, it means that the accused is trying to convey and convince the court that he is at some other place at the time when the crime happened. Generally, a plea of alibi states that the suspect was not there at the crime spot and time of the performance of a crime owing to the excuse that he was at some other place. According to criminal law, the burden of proving that he was absent at the crime spot, lies on the accused.
Illustration: On a certain day A got murdered at Vijayawada. B was accused in this case but he is in Vizag when the crime had happened. Now B can make a plea of Alibi in the court. Here B must prove that he/she is in Vizag, at the time the crime was committed.
SECTIONS DEALING WITH THE PLEA OF ALIBI
- Section 11 of the Indian Evidence Act
“When facts not otherwise relevant become relevant: Facts not otherwise relevant are relevant
1) If they are inconsistent with any fact in issue or relevant fact;
2) If by themselves or in connection with other facts they make the existence or non-existence of any fact in issue or relevant fact highly probable or improbable.”
- Section 103 of the Indian Evidence Act
It states that “The burden of proof as to any particular fact lies on that person who wishes the Court to believe in its existence unless it is provided by any law that the proof of that fact shall lie on any particular person.”
WHO CAN MAKE A PLEA OF ALIBI?
The accused can make a plea of alibi. If he takes the plea of alibi at an earlier stage of judicial proceedings, its credibility increases. To make this plea the accused must be at a place that is far from the place of commission of the crime and they cannot be at the crime spot at that time. In court proceedings, the defence of an alibi is rarely accepted if it is not supported by evidence.
ESSENTIALS OF THE PLEA OF ALIBI
- There should be a commission of a crime punishable by law.
- To make a plea, the person should be accused of the said crime.
- The accused must be absent at the crime spot at the time of the commission of the crime
- The accused must be at a place that is far away from the crime spot, and it should be impossible to reach the crime spot at the time of the commission of the crime
- The defence of alibi should be taken by the accused as soon as possible
FAILURE TO ESTABLISH AN ALIBI
If the accused couldn’t succeed in establishing the plea of alibi, it can’t be confirmed that he is present at the crime spot and the obligation to prove it with some sort of evidence lies on the side of the prosecution. Thus, the accused’s failure to prove his or her alibi will not lead to a conclusion that he or she was present at the crime spot.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE ACCUSED MAKES A FALSE PLEA?
The Courts will not decide/consider a person guilty merely based on the fact that the accused made a false plea. However, it negatively impacts the accused. Providing fake evidence to support the plea leads to suspicion on the accused and the court will be more careful throughout the proceedings. When a false alibi plea is made, it will also create an impact on the entire investigating process.
In Rajesh Kumar v. Dharamvi case, the accused claimed that at the time of the commission of the offence, he went to Panipat to meet an advocate for legal advice. The crime had happened in the Karnal district. But the advocate failed to provide evidence concerning the time and visit. This plea got rejected by the honourable apex court.
In the Hari Chand v State of Delhi case, the accused appealed the plea of alibi by stating that he was attended an examination at the time of the commission of the crime. But in the police investigation, it has been found that he attended the examination one day before the day on which the crime had happened and he had no scheduled exam on that day. The court found that the plea made by the accused is false in nature.
The plea of Alibi is a good defence. There is no chance of misusing it because making a plea only creates doubt in the mind of the judge that the accused may be absent at the crime spot. As the burden of proving this plea lies entirely on the accused, there are fewer chances of taking the plea of alibi by the person who committed the crime. This plea is accepted by the court only when the accused can provide solid evidence concerning his absence at the crime spot. Another great thing about it is if the plea is not made by the accused in the initial stage, then its impact on the proceedings will be too low. It is evident by the above-mentioned facts that the plea of alibi is so perfectly framed and there is no need for any modification. It only saves the innocent and does not provide any scope for the criminal to escape.
The defence of establishing an alibi means that the accused was stating that he /she was present at some other place at the time the crime took place. There are two key points to remember when making an alibi plea: guilt cannot be altered by establishing a false alibi plea. Another concept is that a defendant cannot profit from an alibi plea if the court does not have reasonable doubt regarding the accused’s involvement in the conduct of the crime. It is important to note that simply because the defendant claimed the plea of alibi, the chance of the defendant committing the crime is not reduced and the accused is burdened with the obligation to prove his/her plea. The accused must defend his/her plea beyond a reasonable doubt and with some solid proof. After that, the court will accept it in the criminal proceedings. It is important to mention that the prosecutor is also obliged to prove that the crime was committed by the accused because an accused in India is regarded as “innocent until proven guilty”.
Author(s) Name: Kethana Tamminaina (Student, Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University, Visakhapatnam)
 Indian Evidence Act 1872, s 11
 Indian Evidence Act 1872, s 103
 AIR 1997 SC 3769
 AIR 1996 SC 1477