Conviction Can Be Sustained On Extrajudicial Confession If Voluntary: Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court said on Tuesday extrajudicial confession is generally a “weak piece of evidence” but a conviction can be sustained on its basis provided the confession is proved to be voluntary and truthful.
The court observed that going by the natural course of human conduct, normally, a person would confide about a crime committed by him only to those in whom he has implicit faith. While acquitting a man convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment in a murder case of 1989, a bench of Justices AS Oka and Rajesh Bindal noted his conviction was based on alleged extrajudicial confession.

“As far as extra-­judicial confession is concerned, the law is well settled. Generally, it is a weak piece of evidence. However, a conviction can be sustained on the basis of extra-­judicial confession provided that the confession is proved to be voluntary and truthful. It should be free of any inducement,” the bench said.

It said the evidentiary value of such confession also depends on the person to whom it has been made.

“Going by the natural course of human conduct, normally, a person would confide about a crime committed by him only with such a person in whom he has implicit faith. Normally, a person would not make a confession to someone who is totally a stranger to him,” it said.

The bench said, moreover, the court has to be satisfied with the reliability of the confession keeping in view the circumstances in which it has been made.

“As a matter of rule, corroboration is not required. However, if an extra-­judicial confession is corroborated by other evidence on record, it acquires more credibility,” it said.

The bench noted the appellant was prosecuted along with four others for the alleged offences punishable under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including that for murder, and was convicted.

It noted the Patna High Court confirmed his conviction, whereas the remaining four accused were acquitted.

The court further said it was alleged that in June 1989, a missing persons report was lodged regarding the disappearance of two people, and as per the informant, he had received an information that both of them were murdered by the appellant in association with others.

It was alleged that the appellant had admitted in presence of the some people that he and four others had killed the two by strangulation and concealed their bodies in a field.

It was also claimed that both the bodies were recovered from the field.

The court noted the prosecution examined 10 witnesses out of which six, including the complainant, were declared hostile.

“According to the prosecution case, the appellant had made a confession in presence of these witnesses,” the bench observed.

It said the six prosecution witnesses, including the complainant whose son was killed, did not support the prosecution.

The bench said the other three prosecution witnesses were not consistent about the place where the alleged confession was made.

“Hence, the prosecution’s case about extra­-judicial confession does not inspire confidence at all. Moreover, there are no other circumstances brought on record which could support or corroborate the prosecution case. Therefore, in our considered view, the evidence in form of the extra-­judicial confession of the appellant deserves to be discarded,” the bench said.

It said, admittedly, there was no other evidence against the appellant and, therefore, his conviction cannot be sustained at all.

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