A Full bench of the Apex Court held as follows regarding the important of fundamental right available to accused u/s 313 Cr.P.C.
From Paras 18 and 19,
18. Another important issue that merits consideration in the present appeal is that the accused-appellant, in his Section 313 statement, stated that he and the complainant belonged to opposing student parties. The accused-appellant claimed that owing to the animosity pertaining to the elections, the accused-appellant was falsely implicated in the matter. He also produced two witnesses to prove his alibi. DW1 and DW2 have stated that the accused appellant was in his village as his mother was unwell. Moreover, the accused-appellant also pointed out to the Court that the father, sister and brother of the complainant were all a part of the police department. The accused-appellant also brought to the notice of the Court the fact that the complainant had also registered another criminal case against the accused-appellant in which he already stands acquitted.
19. In the case at hand, the alternate version put forth by the appellant-accused could not be ignored. Section 313 CrPC confers a valuable right upon an accused to establish his innocence and can well be considered beyond a statutory right, as a constitutional right to a fair trial under Article 21 of the Constitution.[See Reena Hazarika v. State of Assam, (2019) 13 SCC 289]
From Paras 25-28,
25. In the present case, the courts below failed to scrutinize the defence version put forward by the appellant-accusedin his Section 313 statement. The object of Section 313 of the Codeis to establish a direct dialogue between the court and the accused. (See Asraf Ali v. State of Assam, (2008) 16 SCC 328)
26. The purpose of Section 313 CrPC is to provide the accused a reasonable opportunity to explain the adverse circumstances which have emerged against him during the course of trial.A reasonable opportunity entails putting all the adverse evidences in the form of questions so as to give an opportunity to the accused to articulate his defence and givehis explanation.
27. If all the circumstances are bundled together and a singleopportunity is provided to the accused to explain himself, he may not able to put forth a rational and intelligibleexplanation. Such, exercises which defeats fair opportunity are nothing but empty formality. Non-fulfilment of the true spirit of Section 313 may ultimately cause grave prejudice tothe accused and the Court may not have the benefit of all the necessary facts and circumstances to arrive at a fair conclusion.
28. Such an omission does not ipso facto vitiate the trial, unless the accused fails to prove that grave prejudice has been caused to him. Although the counsel on behalf the accused has not proved any serious prejudice caused to him due to failure of the Court in framing individual circumstances; however, considering the long pendency of the matter and the right of the accused to have a fair and expeditious trial, we propose to proceed and decide the matter on its own merit.
From Para 29,
Jai Prakash Tiwari Vs State of Madhya Pradesh on 04 Aug 2022
29. It is an established principle of criminal law that the burden of proving the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt is upon the prosecution. Where an accused sets up a defence or offers an explanation, it is well-settled that he is not required to prove his defence beyond a reasonable doubt but only by preponderance of probabilities. [See M. Abbas v. State of Kerala, (2001) 10 SCC 103]. Further, it has been held by this Court in Parminder Kaur v. State of Punjab, (2020) 8 SCC 811 that “once a plausible version has been put forth in defence at the Section 313 CrPC examination stage, then it is for the prosecution to negate such defence plea”.