The word confession has not been defined in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. Confession has been discussed under sections 24 to 30 of the Indian Evidence Act.
In Aghanoo Nagesia vs the State of Bihar (1965), the Supreme Court held that confession is a species of admission.
In the State of UP vs Deoman Upadhyaya (1961), Justice Shah referred to confession as a statement made by a person stating or suggesting the inference that he has committed a crime.
According to Sir Stephen, confession is an admission made at any time by a person charged with a crime and suggesting the inference that he committed that crime. This definition of Sir Stephen was rejected in the Pakala Narayanaswami vs King-Emperor (1939) case. And it was held that “confession must either admit in terms the offence or at any rate substantially all the facts which constitute the offence”, which means that there should be a direct acknowledgement of all facts or elements that constitute an offence.
Confession is a statement containing an admission of guilt and not merely a statement raising the inference about such guilt.
Kinds of Confession Under Indian Evidence Act
There are two kinds of confessions under the Evidence Act. They are:
1. Judicial Confessions.
Confessions that are made before Magistrate or court in the course of judicial proceedings are Judicial confessions.
2. Extra-judicial Confessions.
Confessions that are made by the party elsewhere than before a Magistrate or court are extra-judicial confessions.
Grounds for Relevancy of Confession
In Shankara vs the State of Rajasthan, a double test for deciding the acceptability of a confession was given.
(i) whether the confession was perfectly voluntary.
(ii) if so, whether it is true and trustworthy
The voluntariness of a confession is a condition precedent to the confession being true and trustworthy.
Relevancy of Confession Under Indian Evidence Act
Sections 24 to 30 of the Indian Evidence Act deal with the relevancy of confession. Let us discuss it in detail.
- Section 24 Evidence Act – Confession by Inducement, Threat or Promise
- Section 25 Evidence Act – Confession to Police Officers Not to be Proved
- Section 26 Evidence Act – Confession by Accused When in Custody
- Section 27 Evidence Act – Information Received From Accused That May be Proved
- Section 29 Evidence Act – Confession Otherwise Relevant Not to Become Irrelevant
- Section 30 Evidence Act – Consideration of Proved Confession
Section 24 Evidence Act – Confession by Inducement, Threat or Promise
According to section 24 of the Indian Evidence Act, a confession shall be irrelevant in a criminal proceeding if:
- The confession has been obtained by any inducement, threat or promise.
- Such inducement, threat or promise was given from a person in authority.
- Such inducement, threat or promise, was about the charge against the accused person.
- Such inducement, threat or promise must, in the opinion of the court, be sufficient to give the accused person grounds for supposing that by making it, he would gain any advantage or avoid any evil of a temporal nature about the proceedings against him.
Section 28 of the Indian Evidence Act says that confession shall be relevant when the impression of such inducement, threat or promise is removed.
Section 25 Evidence Act – Confession to Police Officers Not to be Proved
According to section 25 of the Indian Evidence Act, no confession made to the police officer shall be proved against the person who made it.
The purpose behind this restriction is:
- To protect the accused person from third-degree treatment.
- To ensure a proper and fair investigation.
- To bring the actual culprit to the books.
Section 26 Evidence Act – Confession by Accused When in Custody
According to section 26 of the Indian Evidence Act, a confession by the accused while in police custody cannot be proved against him.
Exception to Section 26 of the Evidence Act.
If such confession while in the custody of police was made in the immediate presence of a Magistrate, it shall be proved as against such person.
Section 27 Evidence Act – Information Received From Accused That May be Proved
Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act is considered an exception to sections 25 and 26 as it enables certain statements made in police custody to be proved.
Conditions of Section 27
Following are the conditions for a confession to be proved under section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act
- There must be the discovery of a fact in consequence of information received from a person accused of any offence.
- The accused must be in the custody of a police officer.
- Such information should relate distinctly to the fact discovered.
For instance, the statement given by the person was “I will produce a sword concealed in the courtyard of my house with which I stabbed A”. And the sword was recovered.
There are two parts to this sentence. The second part i.e. with which I stabbed A, is not relevant. But the remaining part is relevant, which led to the discovery of the weapon used in the offence.
In Navaneethakrishnan vs the State by Inspector of Police (2018), it was held that section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act incorporates the doctrine of confirmation by subsequent facts. According to this doctrine, the statement made in police custody is subject to the subsequent discovery of facts.
Section 29 Evidence Act – Confession Otherwise Relevant Not to Become Irrelevant
As per section 29 of the Indian Evidence Act, if such a confession is otherwise relevant, it does not become irrelevant merely:
- because it was made under a promise of secrecy; or
- because it was made under in consequence of deception’ or
when he was drunk; or
- because it was made in answer to questions which he need not have answered; or
- because he was not warned that he was not bound to make such confession, or it can be used against him.
Section 30 Evidence Act – Consideration of Proved Confession
Section 30 of the Indian Evidence Act deals with consideration of proved confession by the court, which is made by a person affecting the person making it and others that are being tried jointly for the same offence.
Elements of Section 30 of the Indian Evidence Act.
Elements of section 30 are as follows:
- When more than one person are tried jointly.
- The trial is for the same offence.
- A confession is made by one of such persons affecting him and some other such persons.
- Such confession 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.
In Kashmira Singh vs the State of Madhya Pradesh (1952), it was held that confession of a co-accused is a weak type of evidence as:
- It is not required to be given on oath.
- It cannot be tested by cross-examination.