Section 391 CrPC: Appellate Court Power to Take Further Evidence – Code of Criminal Procedure

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Section 391 CrPC: Appellate Court Power to Take Further Evidence – Code of Criminal Procedure

Section 391 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) empowers appellate courts to take further evidence in certain situations, even if such evidence was not presented before the trial court. This section is crucial for ensuring a fair and just trial, allowing the appellate court to address any potential gaps or inconsistencies in the evidence presented during the initial proceedings.

Explanation:

The section states that an appellate court can take further evidence in the following scenarios:

  • When the appellate court deems it necessary for a just decision: The court has the discretion to determine whether taking further evidence is essential for arriving at a fair and impartial verdict. This is a broad power, and the court considers various factors, including the nature of the case, the evidence already presented, and the potential impact of the new evidence.
  • When the evidence was not produced before the trial court due to circumstances beyond the control of the party seeking to introduce it: The section recognizes that sometimes, parties may have legitimate reasons for not presenting evidence during the initial trial. This could be due to factors such as the unavailability of witnesses, unforeseen events, or procedural difficulties.
  • When the evidence is relevant to a substantial question of fact: The new evidence must be relevant to the case and address a significant point of contention. It should not be merely collateral or peripheral to the main issues being decided.
  • When the court believes that the evidence is necessary to determine the truth: The court’s ultimate objective is to arrive at a just and accurate conclusion. If the court believes that the new evidence is essential for determining the truth, it may choose to admit it, even if it was not presented during the trial.
Also Read  Section 393 CrPC: Finality of Judgments and Orders on Appeal - India's Code of Criminal Procedure

Illustration:

Consider a case where a witness who was crucial to the prosecution’s case was unavailable at the time of the trial due to a medical emergency. However, the witness recovers and is available to testify during the appeal. In this scenario, the appellate court can exercise its power under Section 391 to admit the witness’s testimony, as it was not presented before the trial court due to circumstances beyond the prosecution’s control.

Common Questions and Answers:

Q: Can an appellate court take further evidence without giving notice to the parties involved?
A: No, the appellate court must provide notice to all parties involved before taking any further evidence. This ensures that all parties have an opportunity to present their arguments and prepare for the examination of the new evidence.

Q: What happens if the appellate court refuses to take further evidence?
A: The appellate court’s decision to refuse further evidence is subject to review by higher courts. If a higher court finds that the appellate court’s refusal was unreasonable or unjust, it may direct the lower court to take further evidence.

Q: Can the appellate court take evidence that was already rejected by the trial court?
A: Yes, the appellate court can consider evidence that was rejected by the trial court, but only if it believes that the rejection was incorrect or that the evidence is essential for a fair decision.

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