Evidentiary value of a confession – Indian Evidence Law

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State of U.P. v. Deoman Upadhyaya

Deoman was tried for the murder of Sukhdei. Analysis of s.24 to s.27, a person in custody, a confession made by him to a police officer or the making of which is procured by inducement or threat is not provable against him in any proceeding in which he is charged. Confession made by a person in the custody of a police officer is not provable unless it is made in the immediate presence of a Magistrate. Deoman absconded in the presence of a witnesses and that he had thrown the Gandasa in the village tank which established a strong chain of circumstances leading to the irresistible inference that Deoman killed Sukhdei. The High Court was of the view that mere fetching of the gandasa from its hiding place does not establish Deoman had put it in the tank. But the discovery from its place of hiding, the gandasa stained with human blood in the light of the admission by him that he had thrown it in the tank in which it was found therefore acquired significance. The offence appears to have been brutal, conceived and executed with deliberation and not in a moment of passion, the Supreme Court confirms the sentence of death.

Haricharan Kurmi v. State of Bihar

The two appellants Haricharan Kurmi and Jogia Hajam were charged for having committed an offence    punishable under s.396 of IPC. The High Court came to the conclusion that the blood stains on the clothes found with both the appellants and blood stains found in the house of the appellant Haricharan afforded sufficient corroborations to the confession of Ram Surat, and so it has confirmed the conviction of the appellant. The question about the part which a confession made by a co-accused person can play in a criminal trial, has to be determined in the light of the provisions of s.30 of the Act. In criminal trial as a matter of prudence criminal courts generally require some corroboration to the said confession particularly if it has been retracted. Reading the two provisions i.e. s.113 and s.114 Illustration (b), it allows that though an accomplice is a competent witness, prudence requires that his evidence should not be acted upon unless it is materially corroborated, and that is the effect of judicial decisions. The Supreme Court stated there can be no doubt that the evidence about the discovery of blood stains on which the prosecution relies is entirely sufficient to justify the prosecution charge against both the appellants. Therefore, satisfied that the High Court was not right in confirming the conviction of the two appellants under s. 396 of IPC. The order of conviction are set aside and the accused are ordered to be acquitted.

Aghnoo Nagesia v. State of Bihar

The appellant was charged under s.302 of IPC for murdering his aunt, aunt’s daughter, her son-in-law, Somra and Dilu, and son of Somra. The first information of the offences was lodged by the appellant himself at police station. There were no-eyewitness to the murders. The information report, which contains a full confession of guilt by the appellant. The other evidence on record is insufficient to convict the appellant. Question in appeal is whether the statement or any portion of it is admissible in evidence. For the purpose of this case, appellant was constructively in police custody and therefore the information contained in the FIR lead to the discovery of the dead bodies is admissible in evidence. This evidence in totality not sufficient to convict the appellants of the offences under s.302 of the IPC. The conviction is set aside.

Bheru Singh v. State of Rajasthan

The appellant has been convicted for an offence under s.302 IPC.  The appellant himself  was seized. The motive in the case appears to be the suspicion by the appellant of infidelity of his wife. The FIR discloses the motive for the murder and the manner in which the appellant committed the six murders. The High Court relied upon the confessional statement recorded under s.164 CrPC and found that the same was voluntary and had been made by the appellant without any threat or fear and that it contained a full confession of the crime and also disclosed the manner in which the crime had been committed. The evidence on record, the conclusion is irresistible that the prosecution has established beyond a reasonable doubt that the appellant had committed the murder of his wife and their five children.

State of Punjab v. Barkat Ram

The mere fact that similar powers in regard to detection of infractions of Customs laws have been conferred on Officers of the Customs Department as are conferred on Officers of the Police is not sufficient for holding them to be police officers within the meaning of Section 25 of the Evidence Act because the powers of search etc., conferred on the former are  of a limited character and have a limited object of safeguarding the revenues of the State.  It is also to be noticed that Sea Customs Act itself refers to Police Officers in contradistinction to the Customs Officer. S.180 empowers a police officer to seize articles liable to confiscation under the act, in suspicion that they had been stolen. S.184 provides that the officer adjudging such confiscation shall take and hold possession of the thing confiscated by requesting an officer of police to assist him in taking such possession. This leaves no room for doubt that a Customs Officer is not an officer of the Police.

Raja Ram Jaiswal v. State of Bihar

For the purpose of determining as to who can be regarded as a “police officer” for the purpose of Section 25 is not the totality of the powers which an officer enjoys but the kind of powers which the law enables him to exercise. The powers of investigation into offences which a police officer enjoy are not conferred upon a Customs Officer. It is the power of investigation, which establishes a direct relationship with the prohibition enacted in s.25. An excise officer acting under s.78 (3) would be in the same position as Officer in charge of a police station making an investigation; he would have the same opportunity of extorting a confession from a suspect. There is a reason why the confession made to an Excise Sub- Inspector must be excluded, that is, it is a statement made during the course of investigation to a person who exercises the powers of an officer in charge of a police station. Such statement is excluded from evidence by s.162 of the CrPC except for the purpose of contradiction. Therefore, both by s.25 of Evidence Act and s.162 CrPC the confession of the appellant is inadmissible in evidence. The conviction is set aside.

State of Bombay v. Kathi Kalu Oghad

The facts call in aid of the provisions of clause (3) of article 20 of Constitution. The respondent was charged along with another person, under s.302 read with s. 34 of IPC also under s.19 (e) of Indian Arms Act. At the trial the identification of the respondent, as one of the two alleged culprits, was the most important question to be decided by the Court. The prosecution adduced in evidence a chit alleged to be in the handwriting of the respondent, the police had obtained from him, during the investigation, three specimen handwritings of his on three separate sheets of paper. These documents were inspected by the Handwriting expert whose evidence was to the effect that they are all writing by the same person. But it is disputed whether the accused had been compelled to give those writings within the meaning of clause (3) of article 20. The Court on weighing the facts and circumstances disclosed in the evidence that an accused person cannot be said to have been compelled to be a witness against himself simply because he made a statement while in police custody, without anything more.

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