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This article is written by Appurva Chhangani, from Jitendra Chauhan College of Law, Mumbai. It talks about the applicability and relevance of section 313 of The Code of Criminal procedure, 1971.


We all know that Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 talks about the power of the court to examine the accused. The idea behind giving the accused a fair chance to defend the incriminating circumstances appearing against him in the evidence of the prosecution originates from the theory of natural justice and its different principles. These principles of natural justice are the rules which have been laid down by courts as being the minimum protection of the rights of an individual against the arbitrary procedure. But at the same time, keeping in mind that these principles and theories don’t completely nullify or guard the wrongdoer of adequate and required punishment is vital. Here, the author will be discussing the case of Sumeti Vij Vs. Paramount Tech Fab Industries, 2021 as well, and the same will be analysed accordingly.

What does Section 313 impart

Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 is an indispensable Section which talks about the power of the court to examine the accused. “It recounts the significance of natural justice which cannot be neglected at any cost”, says the Supreme Court of India in the case of Canara bank V. V K Awasthy (2005). Here the court has the power to examine the accused in every enquiry or trial. As per Section 2(g) of the Cr.P.C.:- “enquiry means any enquiry other than a trial conducted under this Code by a Magistrate or Court” The trial of the accused commences after framing of charges.

The focal purpose of the aforementioned Section is to provide the accused with a fair chance to elucidate the incriminating situations or statements that are there in the evidence which may further lead to a conviction. It also honours the requirements enshrined in the principle of Audi Alteram Partem (listening to the other side).

Essentials of Section 313:

  • There is no compulsion on the part of the court to previously inform the accused about the questions They will be asked to expound the events that are appearing in the evidence, says subsection (1).
  • The questions should strictly be related to the case going on.
  • In a summons case, the court shall exempt the accused from his examination under clause (b), just like it exempts him with personal attendance.
  • Clause (b) also talks about the fact that no oath needs to be administered to the accused when he is examined under subsection (1).
  • Here, even though the accused refuses or gives false answers to the questions, he will not be considered liable for any kind of punishment in doing so. 
  • While the trial or inquiry is going on, the court here may decide to consider the accused’s statements and use it as evidence for or against the accused even in any other trial or offence that he might have committed and the same is evident from his statements as well.

Facts of the case

  • In this case the appellant/accused, Sumeti Vij had approached the respondent M/S Paramount Tech Fab Industries at Moginand, as she wanted to buy nonwoven fabric from their factory. Complying with the demand, the respondents delivered it.
  • For the payment of the fabric received, Sumeti Vij issued two cheques No.323930 dated 15th October 2010 and No.323935 dated 01st November 2010 from her account of Punjab National Bank, Karnal, in the name of the respondents, but unfortunately, due to insufficient funds, the cheques were returned.
  • Following this, the respondent issued two separate legal notices and the same were sent to the appellant at two different addresses. The appellant neither responded to either of them nor did she make any payments for the aforementioned delivery.
  • The appellant was then summoned before the Trial Court for the offence punishable under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881. Here, though the appellant failed to provide any evidence to support her statements, she subsequently recorded her statements under section 313 of CrPC and pleaded not guilty.
  • The complainant provided the Court with certain documentary evidence and three witnesses, but putting it all aside, the Trial Court Judge emphasized the fact that the complainant somehow failed to prove that those cheques were actually issued for the goods that were delivered to the appellant. Hence, considering it not appropriate to shift 
  • the burden of proof onto the appellant, the trial court sent back the findings of the complainant which then became the issue at hand for an appeal at the High Court.
  • On re-examination of evidence by the High Court, it was asserted that the onus to rebut the presumption lies on the appellant as is required under Section 139 of the Act. Since there was no actual evidence to prove the contrary except for a mere statement made by the appellant under Section 313 of CrPC in the instant case, the High Court set aside the Trial Court’s verdict, following which, it awarded the appellant with punishment/fine which is the subject matter of the appeal in front of us right now.

Issues involved 

  1. Here, in the appeal before the Supreme Court, the appellant’s learned counsel complained that the respondent was unable to substantiate that the material demanded was ever dispatched and/or even collected by the appellant.
  2. Further, it was claimed by the appellant that there was an absence of a reason adequate enough to believe that the issued cheques were actually for the appellant to dispose of any kind of debt.
  3. Learned counsel on behalf of the appellant also claimed that since it was the respondent’s duty to prove their innocence, they were lagging in yet another way.
  4. Another thing brought into the light was for what purpose were the cheques issued in the first place, and also to invalidate the fact that the said cheques were not a form of the consideration provided to recompense for the delivery of the goods. Therefore, the impugned judgement by the High court needs to be revoked.
  5. Contrary to which, the learned counsel from the respondent’s side claimed that the High Court in no sense has challenged the legal principles or the sections of the Act and that there was enough corroboration available to prove the other party’s guilt.
  6. It was further claimed by the appellant that by giving a verdict in favour of the respondents, the High Court instead vitiated some of the very well-established legal principles that are there in Section 118(a), 138 and 139 of the NI Act.

Court’s observation 

The Apex Court here observed that the appellant had only recorded the statement under section 313 of CrPC and that it was not adequate to disprove the presumption that is there in the Negotiable Instruments Act and a mere explanation of an incriminating statement which is bereft of any sorts of proper evidence is not sufficient enough to defend his own testimony.

Further, it was observed by the bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices Indu Malhotra and Ajay Rastogi that since there was an issuance of cheques, it was the appellant’s duty to prove as to why they were issued in the first place. Also, the Court claimed that the issuance of those cheques to dispose of the debt was enough evidence that the requested goods were delivered properly.

Impact of the Judgement

Intentions of the Apex Court were lucid enough while giving the judgment. The Supreme Court concluded that indeed, the verdict of the High Court was not erroneous at all in declaring the appellant guilty under Section 138 of the Act and so the same should not be hindered. Besides, the filed appeals are insubstantial anyway hence ousted. 

Subsequently, the appellant was ordered to either recompense the person or serve the sentence in accordance with the judgment dated 30th April 2019 passed by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh.


In this case, the burden of proof for rebutting the presumption that is there in the Act which talks about “preponderance of presumption”, was on the accused. The same presumption was examined in the case of Rangappa vs. Sri Mohan (2010). This is because cases like these are quasi-criminal in nature and hence the usual nature of criminal cases where the principle of ‘proving the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt’ is not applied. Here the case relied upon the preponderance of the presumption principle. The Court said that getting the statements recorded under section 313 of CrPC is not much of substantive evidence but a mere facility provided to the accused person to let him elucidate his side of the story without taking him under any form of an oath.

Even the earlier judgment where the supplier complainant failed prima facie to prove that there was a debt which could be legally enforced or any other form of liability subsisting on the date of withdrawal of the checks as was contemplated under Section 138 of the Act, did not help the appellant in the instant case which is why the accused was ordered to either pay off the debt or serve the sentence in compliance with the judgment dated 30th April 2019 passed by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh.


In conclusion to the article, the author feels it is safe to say that though Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure exists to give the accused a chance to defend any incriminating statements that are in the evidence which might put the accused’s life in jeopardy. However, it is essential to know that other factors should be taken into consideration as well. Law itself has a lot of loopholes and relying completely on it without contemplating and implementing other possible theories and scenarios might result in conflicts and hinder speedy delivery of justice. It should be noted that principles of natural justice do not supersede but supplement the law of the land. Therefore, all statutory provisions must be correctly read, interpreted and applied to be in tune with the principles of natural justice.


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