Sakshi Soni & Prachi Mishra, V year of B.A.,LL.B. from Banasthali University
Confession can be defined as a statement made by the accused person voluntarily and with acknowledgement in respect to his guilt. The term confession is derived from the Latin term “confiteri” which means “to acknowledge”. The term confession has not been defined in the Evidence Act, however, it can be first found in Section 24 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 which is contained in Chapter II of the Act which contains the provisions of Admissions. It is said that confession is a species of admission. Thus, “All confessions are admissions, but all admissions are not the confession.”
DEFINITION OF CONFESSION
Sir James Stephen has defined confession as, “Confession is an admission made at any time by a person charged with a crime stating or suggesting the influence that he committed that crime.”[i]
In the case of Pakala Narayan Swami v. Emperor,[ii] Lord Atkin defined confession as: “a confession must be either admitted in terms of the offence or at any rate substantially all the facts which constitute the offence. And an admission of a gravely incriminating fact, even a conclusively incriminating fact is not itself a confession.”
In another case of Palvinder Kaur v. State of Punjab,[iii] the Supreme Court approved the decision of the above case and held that a diverse statement which nonetheless contains some confessional statement will not be regarded as a confession.
On the contrary, in Nishi Kant Jha v. State of Bihar,[iv] it was observed by the Supreme Court that where the statement of accused contains both exculpatory and inculpatory part and the Court has sufficient evidence to rely on the inculpatory part then the Court can reject exculpatory part.
ELEMENTS OF CONFESSION
1. Confession must be true and trustworthy.
2. It should be a statement wherein guilt is admitted.
3. The confessional statement should be taken as a whole.
4. It should be free and voluntary.
5. It should be made to a person in authority.
6. It can be oral or written.
FORMS OF CONFESSION
A confession may take place in various forms. Specifically, there are four kinds of confession. These are as follows:
1. Judicial Confession- When a confession is recorded whilst the judicial proceedings are going and in front of the Judicial Magistrate under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code it is called judicial confession. It has also been defined as “plea of guilty on the arrangement (made before a court) if made freely by a person in a fit state of mind.”[v]
2. Extra Judicial Confession- These are confessions made to a person who has no authority to record the confession i.e. other than a Magistrate or Court. It can be made to any person or police officer when the investigation of the offence is being conducted. However, these kinds of confessions are not considered in court.
3. Retracted Confession- Retraction means ‘the action of drawing back something’. Where a person confesses to an offence previously but denies it later, it is called a retracted confession. However, the denial of confession later does not reduce the evidentiary value of the previous confession unless it is proved that such previous confession was not voluntary.
4. Confession by Co-accused- when two or more persons are charged jointly for an offence and one of them makes a confessional statement against himself which led to establishing his guilt, then the Court may utilize such statement to prosecute against the other accused. This kind of confession is explicitly provided in Section 30 of the Evidence Act.
INADMISSIBILITY OF CONFESSION
The conditions of inadmissibility of a confession are dealt under Sections 24, 25 and 26 of the Indian Evidence Act.
A confession obtained by threat, inducement or promise
Section 24 provides the general rule that if the confession is recorded against the will of the maker of such a statement, it will not be admissible in the court of law.
The essential ingredients of Section 24 are-
1. The confession of the accused should be recorded by any person in authority.
2. The court must have reason to believe that such confession is due to any threat, inducement or promise coming from a person in authority.
3. Such inducement etc. must be regarding the charge levelled against the accused.
4. The court must have reason to believe that such threats etc. have made the accused believe that he might gain some benefit or can get rid of any ‘evil of temporal nature’.
Burden of proof
The burden of proof to prove that the confessional statement was under threat or inducement or due to promise is upon the accused. However, if the accused succeeds in creating doubt that the confessional statement was involuntary; the burden is shifted to the prosecution to prove the relevancy of the confession.
Confessional Statement made to police
Section 25 states that a confessional statement given by the accused person in the presence of a police officer is irrelevant in court.
The purpose behind this section is clearly to protect the right of an accused person against forceful self-incrimination which is contained in Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India. In other words, it can be said that if confessions made to police were permitted as a shred of evidence, the police would use any method of torture upon the accused and compel him to confess charges levelled against him.
In the case of Queen Emperor v. Babulal,[vi] it was held that the purpose of this provision is to avoid coercion of confession by a police officer.
In another case of Ram Singh v. State of Maharashtra,[vii]it was held that when an accused himself gives a First Information Report to the police officer which seems to be a confessional statement, evidence of such confession is restricted under Section 25.
The exception to this rule
The general rule is that confessional statements given to police officers are not relevant. However, there is an exception to this rule which is embodied under the Terrorists and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1985 which admits the confessional statements given in police custody as relevant.
Confession in police custody
Section 26 deals with the confessions in police custody. It prohibits any confession made by the accused person before any person except the Magistrate. This section implies police custody as any kind of restrictions, surveillance or limitation imposed by the police.
In the case of State (NCT of Delhi) v. Navjot Sandhu,[viii]it was held that the statements given by the accused to TV and press reporters during the police custody and even the police were present were not admissible.
ADMISSIBILITY OF CONFESSION
The provisions contained in Sections 27, 28 and 29 provide that what part of confession made by the accused person can be proved in the court and thus admissible.
Information was given by the accused
Section 27 of the act said that if accused confess anything and it comes to the category of confession, and by this confession, any new facts discovered then that fact can be presumed to be true and not to have been extracted. It mainly comes into action when-
The confession is made in front of the police. (Section 25)
The confession is made in police custody. (Section 26)
In the case of State of UP v. Deoman Upadhyay[ix], the SC held that section 27 is an exception of Section 25 and 26 and also it doesn’t violate article 14 of the constitution as article 14 validates a reasonable classification and classification under section 25 and 26.
In the case of State of Bombay v. Kathi Kalu Oghad[x], the Supreme Court held that section 27 doesn’t violate Article 20(3).
Confession made by the accused after removal of threat, etc.
According to section 28 that if during the time of confession if inducement, threat or promise is used then that confession becomes irrelevant but when that threat, inducement and promise is removed from the accused at the time of confession then that confession becomes relevant under section 28.
Confession made under promise of secrecy, etc.
Confession made under a promise of secrecy, during the time of drunkenness state or any other purpose and the person is not bound to give that confession then the relevant confession does not become irrelevant for these purposes.
IMPACT OF CO-ACCUSED CONFESSION IF JOINTLY TRIED
According to section 30 when the person is tried for the offence and another person is also involved in it then the confession made by the accused is considered to be relevant on the behalf of the other accused of the same trial. The court may consider such confession as against such accused, as well as the co-accused.
EVIDENTIARY VALUE OF CONFESSION
Section 31 talks about the evidentiary value of confession and admission. According to the section is not conclusive proof but they can be operating as estoppels.
In the case of Kashmira Singh vs. State of MP[xi], it was led by the Supreme Court that confession made by a co-accused is admissible under section 30 as a shred of evidence but its evidentiary value is not as much as against the person making it.
So from the above study, we can conclude that confession is an admission which is made by a person who committed the crime like the accused commits that he has committed that crime in a manner. It is mainly acceptable in criminal cases and based on a principle that the person never makes any statement against his interest.
[i]Sir James Stephen, Digest of the law of Evidence.
[ii]AIR 1939 P.C. 47.
[iii]AIR 1952 SC 354.
[iv]1959 SCR 1033.
[v]International Journal law of Evidence, 28th edition.
[vi](1899) ILR 21 All 106.
[vii]1999 Cri. L.J. 3763 (Bom).
[viii](2005) 11 SCC 600.
[ix]1960 AIR 1125
[x]1961 AIR 1808, 1962 SCR (3) 10.
[xi]1952 AIR 159, 1952 SCR 526.