Alibi: Origin, Meaning, Application and Important Case Laws

Alibi: Origin, Meaning, Application and Important Case Laws

The legal maxim, ‘Alibi’ means an excuse usually intended to avert blame or punishment. This article on the legal terms explains the meaning and application with the help of illustrations and case laws.

Origin and Meaning

Alibi is a legal term of Latin origin. It literally means ‘elsewhere or somewhere else’. It is basically a claim made by a person that he/she is elsewhere as an excuse to avoid something.


Alibi is a defense used under Criminal Law. The alibi of the person is evidence that he/ she was elsewhere during the commission of the crime. However, the burden of proving a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt always remains with the prosecution.


Alibi is a defense used by the accused under Criminal Law in order to prove that he/she was elsewhere (Alibi) when the crime was committed.

The purpose of using this as a defense is to protect oneself from arrest and other police and criminal proceedings. If the same is proved, the person cannot be held guilty of the offence because he was not present at the time the offence was committed.


  1. X is charged with the murder of Y. However X claims that he was in the office when the crime was committed. Evidence could be in the form of witness, attendance, etc. Thus, the evidence proves that X was alibi when Y was murdered.
  2. A is charged with burglary. A claims that he was attending a seminar when the crime was committed. According to A, he was alibi when the crime was committed.

Important Case Laws

In the case of Bikau Pandey & Ors. v. State of Bihar[1], if the evidence of the accused being Alibi is satisfactorily established, the counter-evidence should be of quality to change the mind of the court.

In the case of Nirmal Singh & Ors. v. State of Haryana[2], the court held that Alibi is a double-edged weapon. It means that if the accused fails to prove that he was alibi when the crime was committed, his presence at the crime spot cannot be ruled out.

But that does not mean that the prosecution will not need to prove the presence of the accused. On the other hand, if the accused is successful in proving his plea of alibi, he will be acquitted without any doubt.


[1] (2003) INSC 594.

[2] MANU/PH/0340/2019.

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