Introduction – Confessions and Admissions
Confessions play a significant role in the criminal trial of any State. Sections 17 to 31 of the Indian Evidence Act lays down the provisions for admission. Sections 24 to 30 deal with confession, hence confession is deemed to be a miniature form of admission, though it is distinct from admission. Before discussing the relevancy of confessions, it is important to understand the basic difference between admission and confession, which is explained briefly below.
Confession is a statement made by the accused person in a criminal proceeding that establishes his guilt in the commission of the crime and can be used against him. Whereas admission is a statement usually related to the civil matters reiterating the facts of that matter. It can be used on behalf of the person or in favour of the person making it.
The ultimate test for distinguishing confession from admission is when the conviction of the person can be made by relying on the statement alone, it is confession. But where some supplementary evidence is needed to strengthen the case for conviction it is admission.
Judicial and Extra-Judicial Confessions
- Judicial confession- Those confessions which are made in the court during proceedings or before a magistrate.
- Extra- judicial confessions- Those which are made anywhere except before a judge or a magistrate. It is not necessarily made before a police or authority. It can be made to a private person, stranger or friend. It can also be made to a judge or magistrate when they are not acting in judicial capacity. Extra- judicial confessions can lead to conviction if it passes the test of credibility.
Inadmissibility of Confessions made to Police
Police atrocities upon the person in custody have been a very common thing in our country. While drafting the Indian Evidence Act in 1872 this was clearly kept in mind and thus the Act included few sections which dealt with the confession that are made before the police to be inadmissible in the court of law. Section 24 to 26 specifically deal with such confessions that are made under threat or confessions made before the police officer. The justification behind this inadmissibility is the probability of the confession being recorded by using force upon the accused, even though he might be innocent. The titles of these sections are mentioned below.
24. Confession caused by inducement, threat or promise, when irrelevant in criminal proceeding
25. Confession to police-officer not to be proved.
26. Confession by accused while in custody of police not to be proved against him.
Section 27 relaxes the inadmissibility of confession to police officer to the extent of any recovery made on the pointing out of the accused. In such cases, a part of confession that gives information which leads to the discovery of the fact, is deemed to be admissible in the court of law. Section 27 is quoted as below: –
27. How much of information received from accused may be proved. –
Provided that, when any fact is deposed to as discovered in consequence of information received from a person accused of any offence, in the custody of a police-officer, so much of such information, whether it amounts to a confession or not, as relates distinctly to the fact thereby discovered, may be proved.
The significance of the confessions can never be underestimated in the criminal trial. Time and again police officers resort to third-degree methods to extract confessions from the person in custody and this is where these sections come into play to protect the accused. It is expected in the near future that for having a robust criminal justice system the police should adhere to the constitutional values and use the force only when it is the last resort.