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Evidence Act: Confessions and Admissions

The Evidence Act, 1872 section 17-30 deal with the provisions related to admission and confessions and there relevancy.

Section 17 defines admission. According to the section an admission is a statement made by a person. The statement to be called an admission must suggest or in simple words throw some light on the fact in issue or a relevant fact. Such a statement can either be oral or written or may be contained in an electronic form.  A fact in issue is such a fact with is either asserted or denied in any suit or a proceeding. In basic words we can say a fact in issue is the main point of contention between two parties in a suit or proceeding.

Thus an admission is any statement made by a person in relation to either the fact in issue or a relevant fact in a particular case but not all such statements are known as admission or confessions. A statement has to be made under particular circumstances then only it will be a valid admission or may be admissible under the Evidence Act, 1872 else though valid it will not be admissible in the court of law.

Also not any person can make an admission. Only a person who is a party to the suit can make an admission. The person’s agent who has been authorized by such a person can make such admission on his/her behalf. Such an authorization can either be expressed or implied. Also in a suit of representative nature a person who holds the character of being the representative can make an admission only while he is holding such a character.

Statements made by persons who have pecuniary interest in the subject matter of the proceeding and who make a statement in the character of persons so interested are also admissible as admissions in the court of law. Again, statements made by a person from whom the parties to a suit derive their interest in the subject matter are admissible as admissions in the court of law only if such statements were made during the continuation of the interest of such a person in the subject matter.

Section 19 of the act also says that statement made by persons whose position/liability is to be proved as against any party to the suit are relevant if such a statement would have been relevant between such person and the party to the suit if a suit would have been brought by or against them when the statement was made whilst the person occupies such a position.  Also statement made by a person who has been expressly referred to by any party to the suit is admissible under section 20 of the act.

An admission can be proved as against the person making the same or his agent or representative but such a person is not allowed to prove it on his own behalf that is to say for his own good except when it is of such a nature that the person making it were dead. In such a case the statement would be relevant between third persons under section 32. Also an admission may be proved by or on behalf of a party making it if such a statement consists of a statement of existence of any state of body/mind, relevant or in issue made at about the time when such state of body or mind existed and such a statement is accompanied by conduct. According to section 21(3) an admission may be proved by or on behalf of the person making it if such a statement was relevant otherwise than an admission for example as under Section 34 entries in books of accounts or under section 35 which deals with relevancy of public documents.

Though oral evidence is admissible under the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 section 22 clearly states that oral admissions as to the content of documents are not relevant unless and until the party proposing to present such oral evidences shows that he is entitled to give secondary evidence relating to the matter. Another case when such oral admission is admissible when the genuineness of such a document is in question.

Section 23 of the act lays down the no prejudice clause that is admissions cannot be used to the prejudice of the party. Section 23 pertains to those situations where in the parties enter into negotiations and in that process make certain admissions. The section gives a discretion to the court to find out whether the circumstances were such wherein either of the party to the proceeding or both of them intented to exclude the admission to be proved.

The act also lays down various conditions in which if a confession is made by an accused then such a confession is irrelevant. Such conditions have been laid down under section 24 of the act and are confessions made under threat, inducement or promise. Such an inducement, threat or promise should be in relation the charge against the accused person and should proceed from a person in authority. Such a person in authority will be one who has the legal authority to interfere in the legal proceeding held against the accused for example the police officer, the magistrate, the sarpanch/ mukhiya etc. the word “Authority” here refers to the particular authority pertaining to the particular case and the same should not be confused with “public servant”. It should not be confused with a public servant as it can be a private individual also for instance a complainant in case of criminal proceeding initiated upon a complaint. The threat/ inducement/ promise should be in reference to the allegations made against the accused or should suggest some consequence in reference to that allegation. A promise to provide good food or to remove handcuff will not qualify as a promise under section 24.

Section 28 on the other hand complements section 24 by declaring that if a confession has been recorded and falls under section 24 then if the court is satisfied that the confession was made only after the effect of such threat/inducement/promise was fully removed then such a confession will be relevant.

Section 25 explicitly mentions that any confession made to a police officer under any condition though relevant it cannot be proved against a person accused of any offence. Section 26 mentions that a confession made by an accused whilst in custody of a police officer cannot be proved against him unless the same has been made in immediate presence of a magistrate under section 164 and section 281 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

What part of a confession may be proved as against the accused is mentioned under section 27. Section 27 is a proviso to section 24 / 25 and 26.  It is based upon the theory of confirmation by subsequent finding of facts.  Sections 24-26 are the general prohibited sections where as section 27 is created as an exception to the general prohibition. What is declared to be admissible under section 27 is the fact that some fact (object which may include murder weapon, blood stained dress, stolen property etc) should have been discovered only upon the information given by the accused. When the confession is made by the accused it may be generally hit by section 25/26 but that part of the confession in which the accused gave the information regarding the whereabouts of a particular case then if the object is discovered as a consequence of such information then it will be admissible as a discovery statement under section 27.

According to section 29 a statement which is otherwise admissible will not be irrelevant if it was made under the promise of secrecy or in a consequence of a deception practiced on the accused person for the purpose of obtaining it or when he was drunk.

Section 30 of the act deals with the confession of a co-accused. It declares that the confession of a co-accused can be taken into consideration in case the person who had made the confession and the co-accused against whom it is to be used are being jointly tried for the same offence provided that the confession implicates himself along with implicating the co-accused. The same offence under section 30 would include the abetment of an offence as well as the attempt to commit the offence.

Posted from
Shoaib Rahman
LL.M. Advocate

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