Types of Confessions under the Indian Evidence Act written by Pooja Ganesh student of SASTRA Deemed University
“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.”
– Justice Stephen (Digest of the Law of Evidence)
The most satisfactory evidence in a case is the confession made by the accused. The basic application of it rests on the truth and accuracy of the said confession. It comes out from a great sense of guilt. Confession can be the decision-makers in a trial. In the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 the confessions are not explicitly defined but it comes under the category of admission, the accused admits to his guilt. The confession of an accused cannot be taken as the sole reason for conviction, it should be corroborated with other evidence. However, in a few instances, a confession made by the accused may result in mistreatment of the subject, due to its high probative value. Under the Indian evidence act, Section 24 to Section 30 deals with “confession”. Under the Criminal Procedure Code, Section 164, 281, and 463 deals with confessions.
Types of confession
Confessions made before the court or a magistrate during the proceedings of the case. Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code empowers any metropolitan or judicial magistrate to record confessions even without considering the jurisdiction of the case. These are known as judicial confessions under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code. This type of confession is defined as a plea of guilty on arrangement. The judicial confession empowers only the judiciary to record statements and the executive has no authority to record confessions. Section 80 of the Indian Evidence Act governs the evidentiary value of confessions. The confession should be voluntary and the accused has to be protected under Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution which talks about “self-incrimination”.
The confession which is not made before a court or magistrate comes under the category of extra-judicial confessions. These confessions are usually considered an informal confession. Confessions made should be voluntary and it should not be made because of fear or any inducement, threat, or promise. This confession can be made during a conversation to oneself and it can be proved as evidence against himself when it is overheard by another person. In Sahoo v. State of Uttar Pradesh, the accused after killing his daughter in law, on his way out from the house, he said that he finished her and her daily quarrels. This statement was held to be a confession that can be proved against him. It was held that the confession doesn’t need to be communicated to any definite individual.
Confessions can be made through letters also. This type of extra-judicial confession has credibility in the court to prove one’s guilt. The Supreme Court has given guidelines to check the credibility of extra-judicial confession. Extra-judicial confession is a weaker kind of evidence compare to judicial confession. High-level scrutiny is needed to examine such confession. The value of extra-judicial confession increases only if the statement is consistent and convincing that the accused can be proved against his confession. Independent corroborating evidence is needed to support the extra-judicial confession.
Any confession which is made voluntarily is taken back or revoked, then it is known as a retracted confession. The court has the power to decide the credibility of such a confession. It differs from each case because of the facts and circumstances. If the confession is proved, then it can be considered as a base for conviction. The retracted confession can be used as legal grounds for conviction only if the court satisfies that the confession is true and it is made voluntarily. But the retracted confession should be supported by corroborative evidence.
Section 24 of the Indian Evidence Act
The word confession first occurs in section 24 of the evidence act. Section 24 specifies that confession by an accused is induced by threat or promise will become irrelevant to criminal proceedings. If it appears to the court that the confession will result in the gain of some person who is in authority or it would avoid any evil of temporal nature, such confession is discarded from the case. The main elements of this section are
• The confession should be a result of inducement, threat, or promise.
• Such threat or inducement should flow from a person in authority.
• The confession should be related to the charge imposed on the accused.
• The confession made should either benefit a person or detriment to a person.
This section does not need proof of a threat to exclude a confession, it only needs a reasonable ground to believe that there was inducement or threat or fear interfering with the confession. If there is a reasonable doubt that threat or promise has been involved in the confession, then the burden of proof lies on the prosecution to prove that there was no such threat or promise. It is the right of the accused to be protected from such threat or inducement. Section 316 of the Criminal Procedure Code prohibits such threat or inducement towards the accused.
Section 25 of the Indian Evidence Act
Confession made before police cannot be used as evidence to prove against the accused of any offense. The confession before the police is usually considered an involuntary confession. If it is regarded as admissible, then the police would torture the accused to confess to the crime. Even if the accused has not committed the crime, he would be pressurized to confess due to the conduct of the police. So the court is restricted from using a confession before the police as grounds for conviction. The mere presence of police during the confession will not affect the voluntary nature. If confession is recorded before the magistrate and if police are present at the place will not be regarded as inadmissible.
Confession overheard by police is also admissible. But a secret agent of the police is appointed to receive the confession will destroy the validity of it. The only confession before the police is not taken as evidence but the mere saying of facts before the policy is taken into consideration. If an accusation is done after a person’s statement, then such confession also cannot be used against him. Only the non-confessional part of FIR can be used against the accused. If a confession is written by a person in a letter to the police, then it is admissible because the police were not present when he wrote the letter.
Section 26 of the Indian Evidence Act
Section 26 is an extension of section 25. Section 26 prohibits the confession made by the accused in police custody. But if there is a magistrate present during the confession, then it is admissible. The magistrate under section 26 should be exercising his powers mentioned under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1882. The freedom of the accused and voluntary nature of confession is assured when the magistrate is present. A confession made before the village head (Pradhan) in police custody is also inadmissible. The Head of the village cannot be considered as a magistrate.
Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act
Section 27 acts as a proviso to section 25 and 26. This section says that if a confession is supported with the discovery of any fact then it is considered as true, and such confession is admissible. If a fact is discovered as a result of the statements of the accused then the confession made by the accused can be taken to prove against him. Section 25 and 26 imposes a complete ban on confession before police, but section 27 acts as a proviso to these sections and it permits confessions that allow discovering facts in support of it. If an accused confesses due to the torture of police but facts are discovered after the statements, then it is admissible under section 27. A confession becomes admissible if it satisfies the provisions of section 27 even though it is prohibited under section 24 of the act.
Section 28 of the Indian Evidence Act
If the inducement, threat, or promise mentioned under section 24 is fully removed then such confession is admissible. It can be removed by intervention by a person in authority or by lapse of time. The burden of proving that the threat has been removed is on the prosecution.
Section 29 of the Indian Evidence Act
Section 29 of the act tells that confession cannot be held irrelevant in a few cases:
• By giving a confession statement in the promise of secrecy.
• By giving confession when the accused was drunk.
• By answering questions to which he is not bound to.
• No warning was given to the accused.
Confessions are admissible as per section 29, even though the accused was not warned before making it or was not bound to make it.
Section 30 of the Indian Evidence Act
When more than one person is jointly tried for the same offense, then the confession statement of one person bounds the other persons also. Such confession affects himself and other people who have jointly committed the offense. The word offense in this section includes abetment or attempt of an offense also. If A, B, C are jointly tried for the murder of D. Then if B gives a confessional statement that A, B, and C have done the offense jointly, then the confession affects all three persons. But confession of a co-accused cannot be taken as the “sole ground” for conviction of all the accused.
The confession has played a vital role in criminal law. It is a part of admission provisions in the evidence act. If confession is true and admissible in court, then it is considered satisfactory evidence to prove the guilt of the accused. Section 24 to 30 of the Evidence Act as elaborated in this paper covers most of the aspects of the confession. The legal provisions regarding confession protect the accused from mistreatment and the constitutional right under Article 20(3) is also upheld. If threat or inducement is completely removed, then such confession becomes admissible. If a confession is made in police custody then it is not taken into consideration, therefore this prevents the accused from police torture. Many provisions in both the evidence act and criminal procedure code uphold the rights of the accused.