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Section 313(4) of CrPC is a valuable right of the accused to seek justice and defend oneself : SC

Parminder Kaur @ P.P. Kaur @ Soni v. State of Punjab CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 283 of 2011, 28th July,2020

The bench comprising of Hon’ble Justice N.V Ramana, Hon’ble Justice Surya Kant and Hon’ble  Justice Krishna Murari pronounced the judgment on the appeal against the judgment passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana.

Learned counsel for the appellant who contended that the testimonies of the two starwitnesses, being full of material contradictions, are far from reliable. The delay in registration of the FIR and the lack of any attempt to catch or even later trace the male tenant showed that the story was concocted by the prosecutrix’s family with ulterior motives. Reliance was also placed on the denial and alternate version put forth by the appellant in her statement under Section 313 CrPC, and the failure of the Courts below to either examine such statutory statement indepth or for the prosecution to belie it effectively. Emphasis was laid on the statement of DW1 who volunteered during his crossexamination that PW2 was then living in the house owned by Bhola Singh, the person against whom the appellant had alleged rape. The deleterious effect of these proceedings on Bhola Singh’s trial and his subsequent acquittal on grounds that Parminder Kaur (the appellant here) was a lady of questionable character who indulged in trafficking of minors, was highlighted to show colourable motive behind registration of this case against the appellant.

On the contrary, learned state counsel supported the impugned judgment(s) by placing emphasis on the concurrent findings of the Courts below. Reliance was also placed on PW2’s crossexamination wherein he himself denied knowing Bhola Singh, to counter the allegation of false implication by the prosecutrix.

The Hon’ble Court analysed five aspects

Sweeping generalisations and superficial analysisShoddy investigation and prosecutionGross mis-appreciation of conflicting testimoniesFailure to refute Section 313 CrPC statementUnder the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 after the prosecution closes its evidence and examines all its witnesses, the accused is given an opportunity of explanation through Section 313(1)(b). Any alternate version of events or interpretation proffered by the accused must be carefully analysed and considered by the trial Court in compliance with the mandate of Section 313(4). Such opportunity is a valuable right of the accused to seek justice and defend oneself. Failure of the trial Court to fairly apply its mind and consider the defence, could endanger the conviction itself unlike the prosecution which needs to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt, the accused merely needs to create reasonable doubt or prove their alternate version by mere preponderance of probabilities. Thus, once a plausible version has been put forth in defence at the Section 313CrPC examination stage, then it is for the prosecution to negate such defense plea.  Charge of Criminal IntimidationProving the intention of the appellant to cause alarm or compel doing/abstaining from some act, and not mere utterances of words, is a prerequisite of successful conviction under Section 506 of IPC. The trial Court has undertaken no such separate analysis or recorded any finding on this count, thus calling into question the conviction for criminal intimidation. Further, the nature of this charge is such that it is a derivative of the main charge of ‘procuration of minor girls’. Given the facts of this case where the common testimony of PW1 on both charges has been doubted, it would be unwise to rely upon it as the sole piece of evidence to convict the appellant for criminal intimidation without any other corroboration. 

The Hon’ble court thus held that the prosecution has failed to discharge its burden of proving the guilt of the appellant under Section 366A and 506 of the IPC beyond reasonable doubt. Therefore, the appeal is allowed and the appellant is acquitted and consequently set free.

View/ Download the Judgment Parminder Kaur @ P.P. Kaur @ Soni v. State of Punjab

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Karthik K.P (School of Law, SASTRA Deemed to be University)



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