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What is the significance and role of sub-section 3 of Section 313 of CrPC in the trial and conviction of an offender?

Judgement Name – Premchand vs State of Maharashtra

Judgement Date – March 03, 2023

Judges/ Bench – J. S. Ravindra Bhat; J. Dipankar Datta



Section 313 of CrPC creates an obligation on part of the court to examine and pose questions to the accused apart from the prosecution process to help the accused to explain inculpatory circumstances against him. This duty is imposed to avail an opportunity for the accused to prove his innocence. However, this is not often exercised properly either by the courts which fail to ask these questions or the accused who in fear of being convicted refuse to answer these questions. In 2009, through an amendment sub section 5 was introduced, so that the court could seek the help of the Public prosecutor and the Defense Counsel in preparing the questions. However, this has largely remained ritualistic without proper use. This case is one such instance where the Apex court has urged the justice system to effectively make use of Section 313 of CrPC. 


What are the facts of the case?

The appellant  living in Nagpur comes occasionally to collect rent to Katol situated 50 kms away from Nagpur. During one such visit, a scuffle ensued between the appellant and the victim Nandkishore and three others Namdeo korde (PW 2), Vilas Charde (PW 3) and Kunal Bhabulkar (PW4). In the scuffle, the appellant attacked the victim with a knife resulting in his death. The cause of the death was reported as “blow to the neck”. Thus, based on the report,  investigation and the statements of PW 2,3 and 4, the lower court convicted the appellant under Section 302 IPC and 307 IPC. The appeal to High court by the appellant was dismissed resulting in the present appeal to the Apex court. 


What are the contentions of the appellant?

Firstly, the independent witnesses who were present at the place were not investigated. The PWs on whose statement the lower court relied were interested witnesses who themselves were part of the scuffle. Moreover, the prosecution failed to explain the injuries suffered by the appellant himself. The appellant is 58 years old, so naturally it is quite impossible to inflict such grave injury with resistance from others. The prosecution also failed to establish any motive for the appellant to assault the victim as the actual dispute was between PW 2 and the appellant. PW 2 and 4 have given contradictory statements as to who introduced the knife in the scuffle. Therefore, the conviction is one sided according to the falsely implicated story of the prosecution witnesses and the court has not appreciated the appellant’s version of events. 

Also, according to the flow of events, the victim seemed to have joined the scuffle lastly and there were no problems between the appellant and victim. Therefore, the attack on the victim and his death seems to be not premeditated thus making the conviction under Section 302 wrong. Rather, the act of the appellant comes under section 304 part II. The court must therefore sentence him to the already suffered period of imprisonment of 9 years and release him.


What is the significance of Section 313 of CrPC?

This section gives an opportunity to the accused to explain his circumstances by creating an obligation on the court to question the accused at any stage of the trial so that the accused is able to answer to evidence and witnesses going against him. Based on several decisions, the following principles have been summarized with regard to this provision. 

  1. It is the court’s duty to pose such questions to the accused to help him prove his innocence and the latter is not bound to answer, accept or deny anything asked to him during such a questioning.
  2. The accused can admit anything in order to take up defenses and can do so without the fear of being cross examined by the prosecution
  3. The accused does so not in oath and these answers would not constitute evidence. The answers must be taken as a whole and examined keeping other facts and circumstances of the case in mind.
  4. These answers also cannot be solely relied upon to convict or release an accused. 


What was given as a written statement under Section 313 in this case?

The written statement of the appellant had narrated his version of the events leading to the victim’s death. The appellant stated that the victim had provoked him by spitting and the PWs started beating him and in the process of defending himself, the appellant had used the knife thus leading to the victim’s death and injuries sustained by other witnesses and the appellant himself. He had also stated that the police station did not take his complaint on the victim and others when they initially provoked him. 


Is the trial court’s conviction under Section 302 correct?

The court had explained that the presence of appellant in that spot and injuries sustained by victims and others while the exculpatory circumstances are the fact that the appellant’s act was involuntary and inevitable and that he has also sustained injuries. The trial court has only given importance to inculpatory circumstances and failed to take note of the exculpatory circumstances adduced in the written statement along with the evidence on record. Though the right of private defense claimed by the appellant was exceeded, since the act was without premeditation, it is culpable homicide not amounting to murder punishable under sec 304 part II of IPC. 



The court held that the appellant is to be given the benefit of Exception 4 to Section 300. This section provides that culpable homicide does not amount to murder when it is committed without premeditation in the sudden provocation and best of passion without the offender taking unusual advantage or acting in an unusual manner. The case of the appellant here satisfies these requirements of exception 4. Therefore, he is to be punished only under Section 304 Part II. Since he has already gone through 9 years of imprisonment and is in his late sixties, the court found it improper to render imprisonment. Thus, it passed an order releasing him without any costs. 


By: Sneha Muthukumar, Sastra Deemed University, Thanjavur.

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