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Extrajudicial Confession: Evidentiary Value

Extrajudicial confessions are those made to any person not legally authorized to record the confession. This can include making a confession to someone during a police investigation. To prove an extra-judicial confession, the person to whom the confession was made must be called as a witness. However, it is not advisable to rely solely on an extra-judicial confession for a conviction. This type of confession is not specifically defined in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and therefore carries less weight as evidence.

An extra-judicial confession alone is not enough to establish guilt and must be supported by other evidence. Therefore, it is considered unsafe to base a conviction solely on an extra-judicial confession.

An extrajudicial confession refers to a statement made outside of a court setting. Whether it is disclosed to a person in authority or not, the manner in which it is obtained is crucial. Simply confessing to a police officer does not automatically render the confession inadmissible. However, the reliability of the confession must be taken into consideration, particularly regarding the relationship between the accused and the individual to whom the confession was made. These confessions are not limited to written documents or admissions to authorities, but can also include voluntary verbal statements to others.

According to the decision made by the Supreme Court in Dhananjaya Reddy v. State of Karnataka, a confession made outside of court (extra-judicia confession) cannot be deemed as a judicial confession, and conversely, a judicial confession that is proven to have not been properly recorded cannot be treated as a confession made outside of court (extra-judicial confession).

According to the Supreme Court in the case of State of Punjab v. Bhajan Singh, extra-judicial confessions refer to statements made to anyone other than Judges and Magistrates, such as the police. The Court also declared that such confessions are considered to be weak evidence.

Although an extra-judicial confession can be used as evidence in court and may lead to conviction, the Supreme Court cautioned in the case of State of Punjab v. Gurdeep Singh that it is advisable to have additional supporting evidence.

A confession made by an accused person outside of the courtroom or formal legal proceedings, on their own accord and without any outside influence, to a person unrelated to the legal proceedings is called extrajudicial confession. This may take place during a police interrogation, to acquaintances, friends or relatives, or even publicly, or anyone not acting in an official capacity within the legal system.

These confessions are typically made voluntarily and are not part of any formal interrogation or legal process at the time they are made. These confessions can be used as evidence in court, as long as they are considered to be genuine and given voluntarily.

In the case of Sahadevan v. State of Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court laid down certain rules and principles that must be followed by the court before accepting the accused's confession. These rules were outlined as follows:
  1. The court must carefully scrutinize extrajudicial confessions as they are not strong evidence on their own.
  2. Extrajudicial admissions should be made voluntarily and must be truthful
  3. When extrajudicial confessions are supported by other evidence, their credibility increases significantly.
  4. The confessor's statements must indicate their reliability and truthfulness.

There are several instances in which an extrajudicial confession may occur:
  • Confession to Law Enforcement: When a suspect in a criminal investigation voluntarily admits to committing a crime during an informal conversation with police officers before being arrested or formally charged.
  • Confession to a Friend or Family Member: When an individual confesses to wrongdoing to a friend or family member, either as a form of seeking moral support or as a way of unburdening themselves. This confession may later be disclosed to authorities or become known during legal proceedings.
  • Confession in a Letter or Diary: When an individual writes a confession detailing their involvement in a crime or wrongdoing in a personal letter or diary entry. If this document is later discovered and brought to the attention of law enforcement or introduced as evidence in court, it becomes an extrajudicial confession.
  • Confession in Media Interview: When a suspect grants an interview to a journalist and admits to the crime or provides details of their involvement. The statement made during the interview can be considered an extrajudicial confession if it is used as evidence in legal proceedings.
  • Confession on social media: When an individual posts a confession or incriminating statements related to a crime on social media platforms. These posts can be captured and used as extrajudicial confessions in legal proceedings.
While extrajudicial confessions can be powerful evidence in a case, their admissibility and weight in court can depend on various factors, including voluntariness, reliability, and whether they were obtained in violation of the individual's rights.

In the case of Balwinder Singh v. State, the Supreme Court declared that when it comes to an extrajudicial confession, the court has a responsibility to evaluate the credibility of the individual making the confession. All of their assertions must be thoroughly scrutinized by the court to determine the reliability of the confession. If the individual making the confession is deemed unreliable, their statements cannot be used as evidence to establish the guilt of the accused.

In the 2011 case of Pawan Kumar Chaorasia v. State of Bihar, the Supreme Court set out its stance on extrajudicial confessions, stating the following: Although generally considered weak evidence, an extrajudicial confession can still lead to a conviction if it is proven to be voluntary, without inducement and truthful.

The bench consisting of Justices Abhay S Oka and Sanjay Karol observed in Moorthy v. State of Tamil Nadu that although an extrajudicial confession is considered to be unreliable as proof, its reliability is reinforced when backed by supporting evidence.

A statement given by an individual in a non-legal setting, such as during questioning by law enforcement, to someone they know or in an informal situation, is known as an extrajudicial confession. These admissions are typically admissible in court if they fulfil specific criteria and are considered to be both voluntary and trustworthy. To further clarify, here are some instances:

An extrajudicial confession is a statement made by an individual outside of a formal legal proceeding, such as during an interrogation by law enforcement, to someone they know or in any other informal setting. These confessions are admissible in court if they meet certain requirements and are considered to be voluntary and trustworthy.

Here is a more comprehensive explanation with examples:
  • Voluntariness: Courts carefully examine whether the confession was made voluntarily, without any form of coercion, duress, or promises of leniency. Confessions obtained through intimidation, threats, or physical force are generally deemed inadmissible.
  • Capacity: The person making the confession must have the mental capacity to understand the significance of their statement and the consequences of their admission. Confessions made by individuals under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or those with mental disabilities that affect their understanding, may be considered involuntary and excluded from evidence.
  • Accuracy: Courts assess the reliability of the confession by examining whether the details provided align with the evidence collected during the investigation. Confessions that contain accurate and specific information about the crime, known only to the perpetrator or investigators, are more likely to be deemed reliable.
  • Corroboration: Confessions that are supported by other evidence, such as eyewitness testimony or physical evidence, are considered more reliable and are more likely to be admitted in court.

Police interrogation: After being apprehended for theft, a suspect confesses to the crime during questioning by the police. The entire interrogation is recorded on video, and the suspect explicitly acknowledges their rights and willingly provides details about the theft, without being coerced or offered any leniency. As a result, this extrajudicial confession is likely to be accepted as evidence in court, as it was given voluntarily and without any form of pressure.

Private conversation: In a confidential conversation, a defendant reveals their participation in a burglary to a close friend, providing specific details about the crime. Later, the friend, who is unaware of the legal implications, testifies about the confession in court. If the friend's testimony is considered credible and reliable, the court may admit it as evidence of the extrajudicial confession.

Public admission: In a public gathering, a suspect publicly admits to committing arson, unaware that their statement is being recorded. The recorded admission is later presented as evidence in court. While the confession was made voluntarily and without any coercion, the court will evaluate its admissibility based on the circumstances surrounding the confession and the reliability of the recording.

In conclusion, extrajudicial confessions play a crucial role in criminal proceedings, serving as direct evidence of a defendant's guilt. However, their admissibility is contingent on various factors such as voluntariness, reliability, and corroboration, ensuring that only credible and trustworthy confessions are considered by the court.

Written By: Md.Imran Wahab, IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9836576565

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