This article on ‘Confessions under the Indian Evidence Act: All you need to know‘ was written by Samar Jain, an intern at Legal Upanishad.
The Indian Evidence Act, of 1872 was passed during British Rule by the Imperial Legislative Council. It encompasses a set of instructions and other similar issues which govern the admission of evidence in Indian Courts. With the enactment of this act, a standardised set of laws applicable to every Indian was introduced. The enactment of the Indian Evidence Act is said to be a landmark decision as it changed the whole system of the admission of evidence in the Indian Courts of Law.
This act/statute has defined, explained, amended, and consolidated all the previous laws related to evidence in India. It applies to all of the judicial proceedings which occur before any court in India and is also applicable to Court Martials (Except for those that occur under the Army Act, the Navy Act, or the Air Act) but does not apply to any affidavits which are presented before any court or officer or the proceedings that occur before an arbitrator.
Concept of Confessions and Admission
Until The Indian Evidence Act, of 1872 was passed the evidence rules were based upon the traditional legal systems of different social groups and communities of India. It was also based on Caste, Religion, Community, and Social Position. Over the years since its passing, except for some revisions from time to time, the enactment has retained its original form as was enacted in the year 1872.
In the words of Sir James Stephen, Confession is an aid to be an admission made by a person at any time, who is charged with a crime or is suggesting that he has committed a crime. It is to be noted that although Confession has not been expressed or defined in Evidence Act, 1872 but the interpretation is drawn from the definition of Section 17 which defines admission it has been understood that Section 17 also applies to confession.
The concept of Admission has an important role to play in judicial proceedings if either of the party to the case shows evidence that the other party has acknowledged the facts/issues in the particular case. It becomes an uncomplicated process for the Court of Law to dispense justice efficiently as the Court of Law is not need to be presented with more evidence. It also has not resorted to the process of judicial proceedings as during confessions the main difficulty has already been settled. Section 17-23 of the Evidence Act has provisions for dealing with admission.
Admission as such has no exact and defined pattern but broadly is divided into 2 categories:
Formal Admission/Judicial Admissions are met when Judicial Proceedings are in progress and as per Section 58 of The Indian Evidence Act by the Court are admissible. They can be rebutted.
Informal Admission refers to those admissions that a person makes during made during the day-to-day normal course of life.
Types of Confessions
Confessions are of many types as per the case and its matter. Ideally speaking, confessions are of two types:
- Confession through Judicial Confession
When confession is given in a judicial proceeding by way of a statement in a court.
- Confession through Statements.
Confessions by a way of statements refer to the statements when not given in the court and at any other place and this type of confession will be known as extra-judicial confession.
These are the following types of Confessions:
- Formal Confession
Formal confession/Judicial Confession refers to those statements which are made in The Court of Law or a Magistrate’s Office during proceedings of a Criminal nature. There is an evidentiary value to these types of confessions as these types of confessions are made before a court or a magistrate as per Section 80 of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872. With this confession, the accused can be tried for the offences committed by him. Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code(CrPC), 1960 has the procedure mentioned for the recording of the confession.
- Informal Confession
Informal Confession/Extrajudicial Confession refers to statements that are not made before any Court of Law or any Magistrate’s Office and are made at any other place. Their value as evidence is a weak kind of evidence and the court is to study such type of evidence very carefully. These types of confessions must be made by the person’s willpower and must be accurate. The value of these statements increases when they are reinforced by other statements/evidence.
Although this type of confession has less value as evidence when compared to a Judicial Confession, a written confession is the best form of evidence available to charge an accused. The Oral Confession may also be tested to find out its value as evidence.
- Retracted confession
A Retraction Confession is a category of confession which was previously made but now has been retracted or revoked and can be used against the person who has revoked his confession. It can only be used if it is corroborated by other collateral and autonomous evidence.
- Co-accused Confession
When there exists more than a single accused in a suit, and they are prosecuted together for the same crime and when any one of them does confess to any evidence against him in such a manner that may prove him to be guilt-ridden of that crime, the court has the power to punish other co-accused on the same reasoning and grounds.
A confession is given to Police in Police Custody and the Effect of the Presence of Police
Sections 162-164 of the Criminal Procedure Code(CrPC), 1960, and Sections 24-30 of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 in particular deal with Confessions. The crux of committing a crime can be found in different statutes although Section 24- 30 of the Evidence Act and section 162 to 164 of The Criminal Procedure Code,1960 (CrPC) particularly deals with a confession.
Section 25 of The Indian Evidence Act 1872 has special importance as it ensures that confession made by any suspect to an officer of the police department under any situation is not permissible as evidence against the accused to prove his culpability until the same has been proved.
Section 26 of The Indian Evidence Act 1872 forbids the bodies of judicial nature to prove an accuses guilt by the manner of confession given in the custody of an officer of the police department. It imposes a fractional ban on the Section 25 provisions that the confession made by an accused to an officer of the police department in their supervision in police custody in the presence of a magistrate may be admissible.
The enactment of the Indian Evidence Act, of 1872 is a watershed agreement as it was the first act that had standardised the presentation of evidence for all Indians. Thus we can conclude that there are various types of confessions depending upon the circumstances of the case, the applicable confession comes into existence. This enactment has also highlighted the fact that any confession given to police under police presence is not to be treated as a confession. This makes sure that no statement which may have been obtained under duress is made admissible.
List of References
- Indian Evidence Act, 1872, India, available at: https://blog.ipleaders.in/indian-evidence-act-1872-an-exhaustive-overview/#Scope_of_Indian_Evidence_Act_1872 (Last Visited on 3 November 2022).
- Confession under The Indian Evidence Act, 1872, India, available at: https://blog.ipleaders.in/confessions-under-the-indian-evidence-act/ (Last Visited on 3 November 2022).