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Confessions under the Indian Evidence Act


  • Meaning of Confession

The term 'confession' is nowhere given or expressed in the Indian Evidence Act, the conclusion explained under section 17 of the Indian Evidence Act, where admission is defined and also applies to confession in a similar manner. Section 17 expressly defines any declaration whether in the form of documentary or oral which is given for the consideration of any conclusion to the admissible facts or fact in issue.

Now after learning the origin of both the term, it is very much definite that when is put forward for the consideration of any conclusion to the relevant acts or fact in issue in the civil proceeding then such consideration of declarations is called confession. Thus, the confession is something which is made by the person who is accused of any criminal offenses and such declarations conferred by him shall be suggesting an inference as to any admissible fact or fact in issue. The statements may give any explanation for suggesting not concluding that he is guilty of an offense. 

In Pakala Narayan Swami V. Emperor, Lord Atkin held that “A confession must either be admitted in the context of any offense or in relation with any substantial facts which inaugurate the offense with criminal proceedings. And an admission of serious wrongdoing, even conclusively incriminating fact is not itself a confession”.

In, Palvinder Kaur v. the State of Punjab, the apex court raised the Privy Council judgment in Pakala Narayan Swami case and accepted their arguments over two explanations- Firstly, the definition of confession only occurs when the declarations provide the admission that he either guilty of any crime or the admission is giving all the facts which lead the offense. Secondly, when the declaration has several qualities and consists of such a mixture of confessional statements which result in the acquittal of the person giving the confession, then such declarations cannot be considered a confession.

In Nishi Kant Jha v. the State of Bihar, the apex court emphasized that there is nothing bad in depending on some parts of statements confessed by the accused and ignoring the other part, the court has followed this concept from English Law and when a court in its competence understood that it has sufficient evidence to ignore the exculpatory part of the confession, then it may depend on the inculpatory part such confession.

Conclusively, it can be understood that the term confession means any statements made by an accused which prove his commission of an offense. And there is just a small difference between the two terms of the Indian Evidence that admission is no other different term than admission as a confession finishes in the admission of guilt by the accused. So, a person accused of any crime makes any declaration against him that may prove his guilt, is called confession or confessional statement. It is seen that confessions are enhanced admission which made it unique, thus, it is famously stated that "All confessions are admissions, but not all admissions are confessions."

In Baburao Bajirao Patil v. the State of Maharashtra, the court while judging the case observed the principle that the court before assuring the facts for the use of confirming the facts in the issue of the case, should start assuring the case facts with all other pieces of evidence possibly connected to the case and only it shall influence the approach of confession by the accused in order to establish complete justice to the inference of guilt of the accused.

  • Kinds of Confession

There are for kinds of Confession, are as follows:

1. Judicial Confession

A judicial Confession is that which is made in front of the Magistrate or in a court during the course of judicial proceedings. Judicial Confession is admissible and is used as a piece of evidence against the accused given that is recorded according to the provisions of Section 164 of Cr.P.C. As per section 164 of Cr. P.C, the magistrate who records a confession must, therefore, warn the accused before he is about to confess and that he may or may not be considered as approval. After the warning, the accused shall be provided time to think over the issue and only record the confession. Such confession is known as a judicial confession.

2. Extra-Judicial Confession

Extra-judicial confession is not made before a Magistrate or in any court during the course of judicial proceedings but is either made in police custody or during the investigation done by the police. Extra-Judicial confession is not admissible.

3. Retracted Confession

The accused person who confessed before and later denied such confession does not harm the evidentiary value of the confession as actually recorded. The apex court has held that a retracted confession may form the grounds of a conviction if it has some usual corroboration from other independent evidence. But if the court finds out that the confession priorly recorded was voluntary, it should be taken into consideration.

4. Confession by co-accused

The supreme court held in the case Pancho v. state of Haryana, that the confessions made by the co-accused do not hold much evidentiary value and they cannot be taken as substantive evidence. Therefore, the confession made by co-accused can only be considered to corroborate the result drawn out by other probative evidence.

  • When is a confession irrelevant?

Section 24, 25, 26 are admissible parts of section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act which talks about the conditions where confession is irrelevant.

 Section 24 of the act determines various situations when a confession on the grounds of such situations becomes irrelevant. Section 24 states that a confession made by a person who is accused of some crime is irrelevant if such confession comes out of any influence, promise, or threat and such instances have come from a person in authority like magistrate, police, court, etc., the other condition of this section is that influence, promise or threat should be in connection to charge of any offense and all such promises, threats or inducements should give a temporary benefit.

For understanding it better, the complete structure is divided into four different requirements, that are:

  • The confession must be out of a promise, inducement, or promise, etc.

  • Such confession should come from a person who is in authority.

  • It should associate with the charge in the matter.

  • It should have a temporary benefit or disadvantage.

Thus, when all these conditions exist, then the confession becomes irrelevant.

  • Confession to Police or Police Custody 

The basis of committing can be found in various provisions but sections 24 to 30 of the Indian Evidence Act and sections 162 to 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure particularly deal with a confession.

Section 25 states that no declarations made in police custody shall be taken as a confession for the purpose of giving the confession against that person who is accused in the case. The terms under section 25 of the act have major importance while ensuring that any confession made by the accused in the police custody under any situation until necessary, is totally not relevant as evidence in a court of law against the accused to give the evidence of his guilt.

Section 26 restricts the judicial bodies to prove the guilt of the accused by his confession which is made in police custody to the police. Section 26 puts a partial ban on section 25 provisions that confessions made in the police custody to the police officer may be relevant if the confession is recorded in the instant presence of a magistrate.


Written by Parul Sharma.


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