Extra-Judicial Confession; Acceptability of

  • An extra- judicial confession is an admissible piece of evidence capable of forming the basis of conviction of an accused.

It is the settled principles of law that the acceptability of extra-judicial confession depends upon such confession in a fit state of mind provided the evidence of extra-judicial confession is reliable, trustworthy and beyond reproach and passes the touchstone of credibility. The confession will have to be proved like any other fact. It would depend on the nature and circumstances, the time when the confession was made and the credibility of the witnesses who speak of such a confession.

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Reference may be made to the decision of State of Rajasthan vs. Raja Ram, reported in (2003) 8 SCC 180 and the relevant portion of the above decision is quoted below:-

  • An extra-judicial confession, if voluntary and true and made in a fit state of mind, can be relied upon by the court. The confession will have to be proved like any other fact. The value of the evidence as to confession, like any other evidence, depends upon the veracity of the witness to whom it has been made. The value of the evidence as to the confession depends on the reliability of the witness who gives the evidence.
  • It is not open to any court to start with a presumption that extra-judicial confession is a weak type of evidence. It would depend on the nature of the circumstances, the time when the confession was made and the credibility of the witnesses who speak of such a confession. Such a confession can be relied upon the conviction can be founded thereon if the evidence about the confession comes from the mouth of witnesses who appear to be unbiased, not even remotely inimical to the accused, and in respect of whom nothing is brought out which may tend to indicate that he may have a motive of attributing an untruthful statement to the accused, the words spoken to by the witness are clear, unambiguous and unmistakably convey that the accused is the perpetrator of the crime and nothing is omitted by the witness which may militate against it.
  • After subjecting the evidence of the witness to a rigorous test on the touchstone of credibility, the extra-judicial confession can be accepted and can be the basis of a conviction if it passes the test of credibility.

The principles of evidentiary value and reliability of extra-judicial confession have been summarised by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of Sahadevan vs. State of Tamilnadu, reported in (2012) 6 SCC 403 and the relevant portion of the above decision is quoted below:-

  • These precepts would guide the judicial mind while dealing with the veracity of cases where the prosecution heavily relies upon an extra-judicial confession alleged to have been made by the accused:

1. The extra-judicial confession is a weak evidence by itself. It has to be examined by the court with greater care and caution.

2. It should be made voluntarily and should be truthful.

3. It should be inspire confidence.

4. An extra-judicial confession attains greater credibility and evidentiary value if it is supported by a chain of cogent circumstances and is further corroborated by other prosecution evidence.

5. For an extra-judicial confession to be the basis of conviction, it should not suffer from any material discrepancies and inherent improbabilities.

6. Such statement essentially has to be proved like any other fact and in accordance with law.

From the settled principles of law it is evident that extra-judicial confession attains greater credibility and evidentiary value if, amongst others, it is supported by a chain of cogent circumstances and is further corroborated by other prosecution evidence.

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