Tuesday 25 June 2024

Whether Criminal trial will be vitiated if any question is not put to accused U/S 351 of BNSS or 313 of CRPC?

 Under S 351 of BNSS or Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973, it is mandatory for the court to question the accused generally on the case after the prosecution evidence has been presented. This provision is crucial for ensuring that the accused has an opportunity to explain the evidence against them. The absence of such questioning can have significant implications on the trial.

S 351 of BNSSS or Section 313 CrPC

S 351 of BNSS or Section 313 of the CrPC allows the court to directly question the accused to explain any circumstances appearing in the evidence against them. The provision is intended to:

  • Ensure the accused understands the allegations and evidence against them.
  • Provide the accused an opportunity to explain or rebut the evidence.
  • Assist the court in determining the guilt or innocence of the accused.

Key Points

  1. Mandatory Provision:

    • Section 313 is a mandatory provision, meaning the court must comply with it. Failure to do so can affect the validity of the trial.
    • The provision ensures that the principles of natural justice are upheld by giving the accused a chance to respond to the evidence presented by the prosecution.
  2. Consequences of Non-Compliance:

    • If the court fails to put relevant questions to the accused under Section 313, it can lead to a miscarriage of justice.
    • However, not every omission will automatically vitiate the trial. The appellate courts will consider whether the omission has caused prejudice to the accused.


Example 1: Omission of Crucial Evidence

  • Scenario: In a murder trial, the prosecution presents a weapon with the accused's fingerprints. The court fails to question the accused about this evidence under Section 313.
  • Consequence: The appellate court may find that this omission prejudiced the accused's defense, as they were not given an opportunity to explain the fingerprints on the weapon. This could lead to a retrial or acquittal.

Example 2: Minor Omissions

  • Scenario: In a theft case, the court forgets to question the accused about a minor piece of evidence (e.g., a witness stating they saw the accused near the crime scene).
  • Consequence: If the appellate court determines that this omission did not prejudice the accused's defense significantly (e.g., there was overwhelming evidence of guilt), the trial might not be vitiated.


The requirement to question the accused under Section 313 CrPC is fundamental to a fair trial. While not every omission will automatically vitiate the trial. It depends on the nature of the omission and whether it caused prejudice to the accused or caused miscarriage of justice. The courts typically assess the overall impact on the defense and the fairness of the trial before deciding whether the omission warrants a retrial or affects the conviction.

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