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Admissions and Confessions under Indian Evidence Act,1972

The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 Section 17-31 deal with the provisions related to admission and confessions and their relevancy.

Section 17. Admission defined
An admission is a statement,8A[oral or documentary or contained in electronic form], which suggests any inference as to any fact in issue or relevant fact, and which is made by any of the persons, and under the circumstances, hereinafter mentioned.

Section 18. Admission- by party to proceeding or his agent
Statements made by party to the proceeding, or by an agent to any such party, whom the Court regards, under the circumstances of the case, as expressly or impliedly authorized by him to make them, are admissions.

By suitor in representative character — Statements made by parties to suits, suing or sued in a representative character, are not admissions, unless they are made while the party making them held that character.
Statements made by—
(1) By party interested in subject-matter—persons who have any proprietary or pecuniary interest in the subject-matter of the proceeding, and who make the statement in their character of persons so interested, or

(2) By person from whom interest derived- Persons from whom the parties to the suit have derived their interest in the subject-matter of the suit, are admissions, if they are made during the continuance of the interest of the persons making the statements.

Section 19. Admissions by persons whose position must be proved as against party to suit
Statements made by persons whose position or liability it is necessary to prove as against any party to the suit are admissions, if such statements would be relevant as against such persons in relation to such position or liability in a suit brought by or against them, and if they are made whilst the person making them occupies such position or is subject to such liability.

Section 20. Admissions by persons expressly referred to by party to suit
Statements made by persons to whom party to the suit has expressly referred for information in reference to a matter in dispute are admissions.
Thus, by taking the collecting conclusion from section 17 to 20 admission can be define as a statement oral or documentary or in electronic form which suggest any inference as to any fact in issue or relevant fact and made by
1. A party to proceeding,
2. An authorized agent to any party to proceeding,
3. Parties to representative suit holding capacity as representative while making the statement,
4. Persons who have proprietary or peculiar interest in the subject matter of proceeding,
5. Person from whom parties to the suit have derived their interest in the subject matter of the suit.
6. Persons whose position and liability it is necessary to prove against any party to the suit.
7. Persons to whom a party to the suit has expressly referred for information in reference to matter in dispute.

Uses of Admission:-
Section 21. Proof of admissions against persons making them, and by or on their behalf
Admissions are relevant and may be proved as against the person who makes them, or his representative in interest; but they cannot be proved by or on behalf of the person who makes them or by his representative in interest, except in the following cases:-

(1) An admission may be proved by or on behalf of the person making it, when it is of such a nature that, if the person making it were dead, it would be relevant as between third persons under section 32.

(2) An admission may be proved by or on behalf of the person making it, when it consists of a statement of the existence of any state of mind of body, relevant or in issue, made at or about the time when such state of mind or body existed, and is accompanied by conduct rendering its falsehood improbable.

(3) An admission may be proved by or on behalf of the person making it, if it is relevant otherwise than as an admission.

Section 22. When oral admissions as to contents of documents are relevant
Oral admissions as to the contents of a documents are not relevant, unless and until the party proposing to prove them shows that he is entitled to give secondary evidence of the contents of such document under the rules herein after contained, or unless the geniuses of a document produced is in question.

Section 22A. When oral admission as to contents of electronic records are relevant
Oral admissions as to the contents of electronic records are not relevant, unless the genuineness of the electronic record produced is in question.]

Section 23. Admission in civil cases relevant
In civil cases no admission is relevant, if it is made either upon an express condition that evidence of it is not to be given, or under circumstances from which the Court can infer that the parties agreed together that evidence of it should not be given.

Explanation – Nothing in this section shall be taken to exempt any barrister, pleader attorney or vakil from giving evidence of any matter of which he may be compelled to give evidence under section 126.

Some important points as to admission:-
1. Admission is a formal positive act of acknowledgment, It is a conscious and deliberate act and not something which would be inferred.
2. In India admission of fact is proved against the party making the admission but admission on a pure question of law is not binding on the maker. (Jagwant Singh Vs. Sitam Singh ILR 21 ALL)
3. Admission by pleaders, Attorneys and counsels in civil cases if made with full authority and knowledge without some serious mistake is conclusively binding upon the client and cannot afterwards be withdrawn, but no admission by counsel in criminal cases can relieve the prosecution of the duty to prove the case.
4. Admission must be taken as a whole and cannot be split up and use part of if against person making it.

Section 31. Admission not conclusive proof, but may estop
Admissions are not conclusive proof of the matters admitted but they may operate as estoppels under the provisions hereinafter contained.
Admissions are broadly classified in two categories judicial admissions and extra judicial admissions.

Admissions dealt with in the Indian Evidence Act (in Sections 17 to 23 and 31) are different from the judicial admissions. Admissions in the Evidence Act is nothing but a piece of evidence.
According to Section 31 admissions as dealt with in Sections 17 to 23 are only a piece of evidence. They are not conclusive proof of the facts admitted like the judicial admissions, but they may operate as estoppels under Sections 115 to 117 of the Act.

An admission is the best evidence that an opposite party can rely upon and though not conclusive is the decisive of the matter unless successfully withdrawn or proved erroneous.

The principle underlying the evidentiary value of an admission may be summarized thus:
(1) An admission constitutes a substantive piece of evidence in the case and for that reason can be relied upon for proving the truth of the facts incorporated therein.
(2) An admission has the effect of shifting the onus of proving to the contrary on the party against whom it is produced with the result that it casts an imperative duty on such party to explain it. In the absence of satisfactory explanation it is presumed to be true.
(3) An admission, in order to be competent and to have the value and effect referred to above should be clear, certain and definite and not ambiguous, or confused.

As per section 58 of India Evidence Act fact admittedly need not to be proved:- No fact need be proved in any proceeding which parties their to or their agents agree to admit at the hearing or before hearing, they agree to admit by any writing under their hands or by any rule of pleading in force at the time they are deemed to have admitted by their pleadings.
Provided that the court may in its discretion, require the facts admitted to be proved otherwise by such admissions.
Section 17 to 31 deals with admission generally and include Section 24 to 30 which deal with confession hence confession is a species of admission.
Section 24. Confession caused by inducement, threat or promise when irrelevant in criminal proceedings
A confession made by an accused person is irrelevant in a criminal proceeding, if the making of the confession appears to the Court to have been caused by any inducement, threat or promise, having reference to the charge against the accused person, proceeding from a person in authority and sufficient, in the opinion of the Court, to give the accused person grounds, which would appear to him reasonable, for supposing that by making it he would gain any advantage or avoid any evil of a temporal nature in reference to the proceedings against him.

The word “confession” appears for the first time in Section 24 of the Indian Evidence Act. This section comes under the heading of Admission so it is clear that the confessions are merely one species of admission. Confession is not defined in the Act. Mr. Justice Stephenin his Digest of the law of Evidence defines confession as “confession is an admission made at any time by a person charged with a crime stating or suggesting the inference that he committed that crime.”

Admission and confession-Difference

Confession Admission
1. Confession is a statement made by an accused person which is sought to be proved against him in criminal proceeding to establish the commission of an offence by him. 1. Admission usually relates to civil transaction and comprises all statements amounting to admission defined under section 17 and made by person mentioned under section 18, 19 and 20.
2. Confession if deliberately and voluntarily made may be accepted as conclusive of the matters confessed. 2. Admissions are not conclusive as to the matters admitted it may operate as an estoppel.
3. Confessions always go against the person making it 3. Admissions may be used on behalf of the person making it under the exception of section 21 of evidence act.
4.Confessions made by one or two or more accused jointly tried for the same offence can be taken into consideration against the co-accused (section 30) 4. Admission by one of the several defendants in suit is no evidence against other defendants.
5. confession is statement written or oral which is direct admission of fact.

5. admission is statement oral or written which gives inference about the liability of person making admission.

Difference between judicial and extra-judicial confession-

Judicial confession Extra-judicial confession
1. Judicial confessions are those which are made to a judicial magistrate under section 164 of Cr.P.C. or before the court during committal proceeding or during trial. 1. Extra-judicial confession are those which are made to any person other than those authorized by law to take confession. It may be made to any person or to police during investigation of an offence.
2. To prove judicial confession the person to whom judicial confession is made need not be called as witness.
2. Extra-judicial confession are proved by calling the person as witness before whom the extra-judicial confession is made.
3. Judicial confession can be relied as proof of guilt against the accused person if it appears to the court to be voluntary and true. 3. Extra-judicial confession alone cannot be relied it needs support of other supporting evidence.
4. A conviction may be based on judicial confession. 4. It is unsafe to base conviction on extrajudicial confession.

Ingredients of Section 24
To attract the prohibition enacted in Section 24 the following facts must be established:-
•That the statement in question is a confession,
•That such confession has been made by the accused,
•That it has been made to a person in authority, (Police, Magistrate, Patel, Master of the accused, Zimidar of the accused, Mukhia of a village or a Ziledar serving in a grate estate are the persons in authority within the meaning of section 24)
•That the confession has been obtained by reason of any inducement, threat or promise, proceeding from a person in authority,
•Such inducement, threat or promise must have reference to the charge against the accused, and
•The inducement, threat or promise must in the opinion of the court be sufficient to give the accused ground, which would appear to him reasonable, for supporting that by making it he would gain any advantage or avoid any evil of a temporal nature in reference to the proceedings against him.

Extra-judicial Confession can be of three types:-
1.Confession made to a police officer – not admissible under Section 25.
2.Confession made in police custody – not admissible under Section 26.
3.Made to any third person neither to police officer, nor in custody and not to magistrate. If such a confession is not hit by Section 24 it will be relevant and if proved admissible. So it has evidentiary value depending upon the corroboration of it. Per se an extra judicial confession cannot be a ground of conviction unless it is corroborated by other circumstances.

In State of MP Vs. Paltan Mallah (2005 SC),it has been held that extra judicial confession is a good piece of evidence but it has to be pass through a stringent test of corroboration and proof. It cannot be sole basis of conviction. Extra-judicial confession against a co-accused can be used under Section 30.

Regarding confession statement starting from Balmukund Case and passing through Palwinder Kaur, Deoman Upadhyay, Agnoo Nagesia and uptil Nishikant Jha, three basic issues have been raised:-
1.In a confessional FIR or generally in any other confessional statement, normally there are two components –
(a) The sentences which amount to a direct confession of the guilt and
(2) Other sentences in the confession which are not a direct admission of the guilt but which are admissions of surrounding incriminating circumstances if the confession was made to a police officer then what is the effect of Section 25? Will it hit the entire statement or will it hit only the purely confessional statements and, therefore can the other incriminating statements of an admissional nature be still used against the accused.

2.If in a confessional statement there is some exculpatory statement as well then can it be separated and used in support of the accused by the defence.

3.If a statement is made by the accused in such a manner that actually it does not amount to a confessional statement. However, there are some admissions of incriminatory circumstances in that statement coupled with some exculpatory circumstances. Then can be exculpatory part be removed and the inculpatory be used as an admission.

In Agnoo Nagesia case it has been held that a confessional statement as to be read in totality and whole FIR will be hit by Sections 25 and 26 unless some portion of it is exculpatory (but Section 27 will apply and the discovery statement will be admissible).

The question whether a confessional statement containing exculpatory and inculpatory statements, will be exculded in totality or can be bifurcated was raised inPakala Narayan Swami Case (1939 PC)and later on in the Allahabad HC Case of Emperor Vs. Balmukund (1952 Allahabad) and subsequently in Palwinder Kaur Vs. State of Punjab (1953 SC).Also in Agnoo Nagesia Case and was finally settled in Nishikant Jha Vs.State of Bihar (1968 S.C) by a five judges bench of SC headed by Mitter J. The final ruling can be summarized as follows - “If the confessional part will be negated if the exculpatory part is proved then the court has to examine whether the exculpatory part is proved or not. If the exculpatory part is proved then the whole confessional statement becomes inadmissible. However, if the court finds that the exculpatory part is either disproved or is untrustworthy on the basis of the other proved evidences, then the exculpatory part can be rejected and the incriminatory part will be admitted”.

Evidentiary value of confession
A confessional statement made by the accused before a magistrate if it is made voluntarily is a good evidence and accused can be convicted on the basis of it. It is substantive piece of evidence and a conviction can be bases solely on such confession provided it is voluntary and proved. Now the settled law is that a conviction can be based on confession only if it is proved to be voluntary and true. If corroboration is needed it is enough that the general trend of the confession is substantiated by some evidence which would tally with the contents of the confession. General corroboration is enough.

Value of extra-judicial confession- extra-judicial confessions are not usually considered
with favour but that does not mean that such a confession coming from a person who has no reason to state falsely and to whom it is made in the circumstances which support his statement should not be believed. The evidence of extra-judicial confession is a weak piece of evidence. The extra-judicial confession must be received with great care and caution. It can be relied upon only when it is clear, consistent and convincing.

Retracted confession meaning:-a retracted confession is a statement made by an accused person before the trial begins before the magistrate by which he admits to have committed the offence, but which he repudiate at the trial.

Value of retracted confession-In 1957 in Pyare Lal Vs. State of Assam it was held that a retracted confession may still be used as a basis for conviction. Its corroboration would be a matter of prudence and not of law. In Bharat Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh (1974 SC)it was held that a confession is a substantive piece of evidence provided that it was made voluntarily. However, when a confession is retracted the Court has to act cautiously and require a greater corroboration of the confession. In Parmanand Teghu Vs. State of Assam (2004 SC)the same points were reiterated. In NCT of Delhi Vs. Navjot Sandhu Alias Afsal Guruit was held that once the earlier confession has been proved to be voluntary then retraction will not play any role as such however in theParliament Attack Case, the confession of Afzal and Saukat, the two co-accused was given up not because of retraction but because the earlier confession was improperly recorded i.e. it was proved not to be made voluntarily.

Proof of judicial confession-Under section 80 of Evidence Act a confession recorded by the magistrate according to law shall be presumed to be genuine. It is enough if the recorded judicial confession is filed before the court. It is not necessary to examine the magistrate who recorded it to prove the confession. But the identity of the accused has to be proved.

Proof of extra-judicial confession-extra-judicial confession may be in writing or oral. In the case of a written confession the writing itself will be the best evidence but if it is not available or is lost the person before whom the confession was made be produced to depose that the accused made the statement before him. When the confession has not been recorded, person or persons before whom the accused made the statement should be produced before the court and they should prove the statement made by the accused.

Confession to police (at any time before or after the investigation begins)
Section 25 – confession to police officer not to be proved.
No confession made to a police officer shall be proved as against a person accused of
any offence.

Reasons for exclusion of confession to police-another variety of confessions that are under the evidence act regarded as involuntary are those made to a police officer. Section 25 expressly declares that such confessions shall not be proved. If confessions to police were allowed to be proved in evidence, the police would torture the accused and thus force him to confess to a crime which he might not have a committed. A confession so obtained would naturally be unreliable. It would not be voluntary. Such a confession will be irrelevant whatever may be its form, direct, express, implied or inferred from conduct. The reasons for which this policy was adopted when the act was passed in 1872 are probably still valid.

In Dagdu v. State of Maharashtra, A.I.R. 1977 S.C. 1579, Supreme Court noted: The archaic attempt to secure confessions by hook or by crook seems to be the be-all and end-all of the police investigation.
Statement Not Amounting To Confession is not hit by Section 25.

Use of Confessional Statement By Accused
Though the statements to police made by the confessing accused cannot be used in evidence against him, he can himself rely on those statements in his defence. The statement of the accused in FIR that he killed his wife giving her a fatal blow when some tangible proof of her indiscretion was available was not usable against him to establish his guilt. But once his guilt was established through other evidence, he was permitted to rely upon his statement so as to show that he was acting under grave and sudden provocation. There is nothing in Evidence Act which precludes an accused person from relying upon his own confessional statements for his own purposes.

Special Legislation
A special legislation may change the system of excluding police confessions. For example, under the Territorists and Disruptive Activities(prevention) Act, 1987, (S15) confessional statements were not excluded from evidence on grounds that the persons making them were in police custody. The court said in another case that section 15 was an important departure from the ordinary law and must receive that interpretation which would achieve the object of that provision was that a confession recorded under S.15 of TADA was a substantive piece of evidence and could be used against a co-accused also.

Section 26- Confession By Accused While In Custody Of Police Not To Be Proved Against Him.
No confession made by any person whilst he is in the custody of a police officer, unless it is made in the immediate presence of a Magistrate, shall be proved as against such person.
Object-The object of section 26 of the Evidence Act is to prevent the abuse of their powers by the police, and hence confessions made by accused persons while in custody of police cannot be proved against them unless made in presence of a magistrate. The custody of a police officer provides easy opportunity of coercion for extorting confession obtained from accused persons through any undue influence being received in evidence against him.

Police Custody
The word custody is used here in wide sense. A policeman may lay his hand on a person, hand-cuff him or tie his waist with a rope and may take him with him. Again a police officer may not even touch a person but may keep such a control over him that the person so controlled cannot go any way he likes. His movement is in the control of the police officer. A police officer comes to A and asks him to follow to the police station as he is wanted in connection with a dacoity case. A follows him. He is in custody of the police officer.

Thus it is settled that “the custody of a police officer for the purpose of section 26, Evidence Act, is no mere physical custody.” A person may be in custody of a police officer though the other may not be physically in possession of the person of the accused making the confession. There must be two things in order to constitute custody. Firstly, there must be some control imposed upon the movement of the confessioner, he may not be at liberty to go any way he likes, secondly, such control must be imposed by some police officer indirectly. The crucial test is whether at the time when a person makes a confession he is a free man or hid movements are controlled by the police by themselves or through some other agency employed by them for the purpose of securing such confession. The word ‘custody’ in this the following section does not mean formal cutody but includes such state of affairs in which the accused can be said to have come into the hands of a police officer, or can be said to have been some sort of surveillance or restriction.

In R. v. Lester, the accused was being taken in a tonga by a police constable. In the absence of constable, the accused confessed to the tanga-driver that he committed the crime. The confession was held to be in police custody as the accused was in the custody of constable and it made no difference of his temporary absence. Where a woman, charged with the murder of her husband, was taken into the custody of the police, a friend of the woman also accompanied her. The policeman left the woman with her friend and went away to procure a fresh horse. The woman confessed her guilt to her friend while the policeman was away. The confession would not be admissible against the accused as the prisoner should be regarded in custody of the police in spite of the fact that he was absent for a short time. But where the accused is not arrested nor is he under supervision and is merely invited to explain certain circumstances, it would be going further that the section warrants to exclude the statement that he makes on the grounds that he is deemed to be in police custody.

Section 27- How Much Of Information Received From Accused May Be Proved:
Provided that, when any fact is deposed to as discovered in consequence of information received from a person accused of any offence, in the custody of a police officer, so much of such information, whether it amounts to a confession or not, as relates distinctly to the fact thereby discovered, may be proved.

Principle-this section of the act is founded on the principle that if the confession of the accused is supported by the discovery of a fact then it may be presumed to be true and not to have been extracted. It comes into operation only-
•If and when certain facts are deposed to as discovered in consequence of information received from an accused person in police custody, and
•If the information relates distinctly to the fact discovered.

This section is based on the view that if a fact is actually discovered in consequence of information given, some guarantee is afforded thereby that the information was true and accordingly can be safely allowed to be given in evidence. But clearly the extent of the information admissible must depend on the exact nature of the fact discovered to which such information is required to relate.

In Pandu Rang Kallu Patil v. State of Maharashtra, it was held by Supreme Court that section 27 of evidence act was enacted as proviso to Section 24 to 26. The provisions of sections of Section 25 and 26, which imposed a complete ban on admissibility of any confession made by accused either to police or to any one while in police custody. Nonetheless the ban would be lifted if the statement is distinctly related to discovery of facts. The object of making provision in section 27 was to permit a certain portion of statement made by an accused to Police Officer admissible in evidence whether or not such statement is confessional or non confessional.

Requirements Under The Section- the conditions necessary for the application of Section 27 are:-
1. The fact must have been discovered in the consequence of the information received from the accused.
2. The person giving the information must be accused of an offence.
3. He must be in custody of a police officer.
4. That portion only of the information which relates distinctly to the fact discovered can be proved. The rest is inadmissible.
5. Before the statement is proved, somebody must depose that articles were discovered in consequence of the information received from the accused. In the example given above, before the statement of the accused could be proved, somebody, such a sub-inspector, must depose that in consequence of the given information given by the accused, some facts were discovered.
6. The fact discovered must be a relevant fact, that is, to say it must relate to the commission of the crime in question.

In State of Bombay Vs. Kathi Kalu Oghad (1963 SC) it was held that Section 25 is not per se violative of Article 20 (3). The SC in this case approved the earlier decision of itself in Mohd. Dastagir Vs. State of Madras (1960 SC).

Section 28provides that if there is inducement, threat or promise given to the accused in order to obtain confession of guilt from him but the confession is made after the impression caused by any such inducement, threat or promise has, in the opinion of the court been fully removed, the confession will be relevant becomes free and voluntary.

Impression produced by promise or threat may be removed
•By lapse of time, or
•By an intervening caution given by some person of superior authority to the person holding out the inducement, where a prisoner confessed some months after the promise and after the warning his confession was received.

Section 29-confession is otherwise relevant, it does not become irrelevant merely because it was made under a promise of secrecy, or in consequence of deception practiced on the accused person for the purpose of obtaining it, or when he was drunk, or because it was made in answer to question which he need not have answered, whatever may have been the form of those questions, because he was not warned that he was not bound to make such confession, and that evidence if it might be given against him.

Section 30- Consideration of Proved Confession Affecting Person Making It And Others Jointly Under Trial For The Same Offence-
When more persons than one are being tried jointly for the same offence and a confession made by one such persons affecting himself and some other such persons is proved, the court may take into consideration such confession as against such other person as well as against the person who makes such confession. It appears to be very strange that the confession of one person is to be taken into consideration against another. Where the confession of one accused is proved at the trial, the other accused persons have no other opportunity to cross examine him. It is opposed to the principle of jurisprudence to use a statement against a person without giving him the opportunity to cross examine the person making the statement. This section is an exception to the rule that the confession of one person is entirely admissible against the other.

Hence before the confession of one accused may be taken into consideration against others, it has to be shown that:
1) The person confessing and the others are being tried jointly.
2) They are being tried for the same offence.
3) The confession is affecting the confessioner and the others.

Evidentiary value of Confession in Section 30:-
The confession of a co-accused under Section 30 is admissible in evidence but the evidentiary value is not as much as against the person making the confession. It has only an indicative value. The PC in Bhaboni Sahu Vs. The Kind has held the same. This was also reiterated by the SC inHarib Kurni Vs. State of Bihar (1964 SC)and also in Kashmira Singh Vs. State of M.P. (1952 SC).

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