Sustainability of convictions on the basis of confessional statements, discussed

Supreme Court: Dealing with the question of admissibility of confessional statements so as to establish criminal conspiracy vide Section 120B of the Penal Code, 1860, a bench comprising of  Dr. A.K. Sikri and UU Lalit observed that the High Court’s approach of relying upon the confessional statements, otherwise inadmissible, with the aid of ‘other connected evidence’ is contrary to law.

The inadmissibility of these statements, as submitted by advocate Sushil Kumar on behalf of the Appellants was, in turn, established owing to the joint operation of Sections 25 and 26 of the  Evidence Act, 1872, whereby confession to a police officer and confession made by an accused in police custody do not stand proved as against him. The definition of the term ‘confession’ meanwhile, was restricted to “mean a direct acknowledgment of guilt and not the admission of an incriminating fact, howsoever grave or conclusive”. Extending its deliberation to Section 27 of the Evidence Act, 1872, the Court observed that it serves as a proviso to Sections 25 and 26 of the Evidence Act, stipulating that information received from an accused, while in police custody, may be used against him only to the extent that it has led directly to the discovery of a fact and provided that the information given must relate “distinctly” to the fact discovered.

While considering the question as to whether a confessional statement made by a co-conspirator in a separate case is relevant to prove the charge of conspiracy, the bench relied on the observations made and decisions laid down in Mohd. Khalid v. State of West Bengal (2002) 7 SCC 334 and Firozuddin Basheeruddin v. State of Kerala, (2001) 7 SCC 596 so as to declare that once the common intention has ceased to exist, as in the case of a post-arrest statement, any statement made by a former conspirator thereafter cannot be regarded as one made in reference to their common intention, Indra Dalal v. State of Haryana, 2015 SCC OnLine SC 523, decided on 29.05.2015

 

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