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October 13, 2018
All Articles by: Mr. M. GOVINDARAJAN       View Profile
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Confession is an admission made at any time by a person charged with a crime stating or suggesting the inference that he committed that crime.  Confessions have been used as evidence against criminal defendants since ancient times. Confession is different from admission.  An admission represents a statement that tends toward proving guilt. On the other hand, a confession is a fully corroborated statement during which the suspect accepts personal responsibility for committing a crime. Many interrogations result in admissions, rather than a confession.

Confession is of two types – Judicial confession and extra judicial confession.

Judicial confession

Judicial confession is a confession made in a legal proceeding. Judicial confession is made before a committing magistrate or in a court in the due course of legal proceedings.

Extra judicial confession

Extrajudicial confession means an admission made in proceedings outside court. An extrajudicial confession made by the child would be insufficient to conclude that the child committed the acts alleged in the petition. However it would be sufficient if it is corroborated by other evidence.    A voluntary confession is a confession that is given out of a suspect's own free will, and has not been obtained by force, coercion, or intimidation.

When an extra-judicial confession is found to be both true and voluntary, there would, strictly speaking, be no bar to the conviction on the basis of that confession alone even though it was retracted by the accused subsequently. 

In an extra judicial confession, exact words uttered by accused should be proved. It is not safe to rely upon impression. Mere general statement that the accused confessed is insufficient. Finally, the evidence of oral extra-judicial confession is undoubtedly a very weak piece of evidence and it would be dangerous to convict a person solely on its basis. But it can be taken into consideration along with other evidence. It is not the law that extra judicial confessions cannot be accepted and acted upon or that they are to be classed under some inferior category of admission or confession.

It is the duty of the Court to scrutinize the evidence and circumstances carefully in order to ascertain whether the confession was voluntarily made. If the Court feels that it is impossible to hold, on the basis of that circumstance alone, then it may come to conclusion that the confession was not freely made.

Difference between judicial confession and extra judicial confession

The fact that a confession is extra judicial and non-judicial does not really make any difference. The only material difference between a judicial and an extra-judicial confession is that the former is recorded by a Magistrate with all the formalities provided by Section 164 CrPC in order to facilitate ascertainment of the confession having been given voluntarily, the aid of these formalities and the evidence of the Magistrate are not available in the case of an extra-judicial confession.

Case laws

In ‘Balwinder Singh v. State of Punjab’ -  [1995 (11) TMI 472 - SUPREME COURT] this Court stated the principle that an extra-judicial confession by its very nature is rather a weak type of evidence and requires appreciation with a great deal of care and caution. Where an extra-judicial confession is surrounded by suspicious circumstances, its credibility becomes doubtful and it loses its importance.

While explaining the dimensions of the principles governing the admissibility and evidentiary value of an extra-judicial confession, the Supreme Court in State of Rajasthan v. Raja Ram’ -  2003 (8) TMI 564 - SUPREME COURT held that 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.

Accepting the admissibility of the extra-judicial confession, the Supreme Court in Sansar Chand v. State of Rajasthan’ [2010 (10) TMI 1183 - SUPREME COURT] held that there is no absolute rule that an extra-judicial confession can never be the basis of a conviction, although ordinarily an extra-judicial confession should be corroborated by some other material.

In ‘Madan Gopal Kakkad v. Naval Dubey and Another’ [1992 (4) TMI 256 - SUPREME COURT], the Supreme Court held that the law does not require that the evidence of an extra-judicial confession should in all cases be corroborated. The rule of prudence does not require that each and every circumstance mentioned in the confession must be separately and independently corroborated.

In Ram Lal v. State of Himachal Pradesh’ – [2018 (10) TMI 310 - SUPREME COURT], the appellant was employed as a peon in the United Commercial Bank in January 1987.  He was assigned the job of the Clerk as there was a shortage of clerical staff in the bank and his job was of manning Saving Bank accounts counter. His job was to receive money from the account holders for deposit in Saving Bank accounts. He used to make entries in their pass books in his own hand but would not account money in the account books of the bank nor did he pass it to the cashier.   When the depositors approached him for withdrawals of money, he would make fake credit entries in the ledger accounts and fill in the withdrawal slips and submit the same to the officer concerned for payment. The Passing Officer misled by the fake credit entry would allow the withdrawals.

When the fraud came to light, a Committee of two officers was deputed to hold a preliminary enquiry and the Committee noticed bungling of accounts by the appellant.  After the preliminary enquiry, FIR was registered against the appellant under Sections 409, 468, 471, 477-A IPC and under Section 13(1) (C) read with Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. After investigation, the appellant was charge sheeted for the said offences.

Upon consideration of the oral and documentary evidence, the trial court held that the appellant in his capacity as a public servant, had misappropriated the money entrusted to him, in discharge of his duty, as a public servant. The trial court convicted him for the offences under Section 13(1)(c) read with Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and Section 477-A IPC for falsification of accounts with intent to defraud the Bank and he was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of two years along with a fine of ₹ 5,000/. For the offence under Section 409 IPC, the appellant was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of five years with a fine of ₹ 5,000/- and all the sentences were directed to run concurrently. The appellant was, however, acquitted for the offences under Sections 468 and 471 IPC for the charge of forgery by holding that the opinion expert is not precise.

Against this order the appellant filed an appeal before the High Court which dismissed the appeal.  The appellant filed the present appeal against the order of the High Court before the Supreme Court.

The appellant submitted the following before the Supreme Court-

  • The appellant was working as peon in the bank and as per bank rules, no clerical job can be assigned to Peon/sub-staff.
  • When any particular job is assigned to an employee different from his duty, then the Manager is supposed to issue office order/duty sheet whereas in the present case, no office order/duty sheet was placed on record to establish that the appellant was assigned the clerical job as alleged.
  • He did not voluntarily make any confession statement and the confessional statement could not have been made the basis for conviction.
  • Extra-judicial confession can only form basis of conviction if it is voluntary and person to whom confession is made should be unbiased and not inimical to the accused.

The State submitted that the appellant acted with dishonest intention to defraud the Bank by making false credit and debit entries in the accounts of various account holders thereby falsifying the account books of the Bank and the courts below rightly convicted the appellant for defrauding the Bank and the impugned judgment warrants no interference.

The Supreme Court analyzed the entire case along with the documentary evidences and also considered the arguments put forth by both sides.  The Supreme Court held that there is no merit in the contention of the appellant that in the absence of office order authorizing him to perform the clerical work, he cannot be held responsible.

The appellant wrote confession statement in his own hand, in the presence of the officer concerned and signed the same which formed part of his report.  Eleven sheets are the tabulated statements in respect of the Saving Bank accounts, in which fake credit entries had been detected. At the foot of these statements, the appellant wrote in his own hand and under his signature, that he had received the money from the account holders, named in the statements, for being deposited in their accounts, but instead of accounting for the same in the respective account books of the bank, the appellant misappropriated it and later on made fake credit entries and forged the initials of the Manager.  During the course of inquiry the appellant also admitted the above said facts.    Mere allegation of threat or inducement is not enough; in the court’s opinion, such inducement must be sufficient to cause a reasonable belief in the mind of the accused that by so confessing, he would get an advantage.

In respect of extra-judicial confession the Supreme Court held that extra-judicial confession is a weak piece of evidence and the court must ensure that the same inspires confidence and is corroborated by other prosecution evidence. In order to accept extra-judicial confession, it must be voluntary and must inspire confidence. If the court is satisfied that the extra-judicial confession is voluntary, it can be acted upon to base the conviction.  Rule of Prudence does not require that each and every circumstance mentioned in the confession with regard to the participation of the accused must be separately and independently corroborated.

The Supreme Court confirmed the conviction of the appellant under Section 13(1)(c) read with Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and sentence of imprisonment of two years.  The Supreme Court also confirmed the conviction of the appellant under Sections 477-A IPC and 409 IPC and the sentence of imprisonment under Section 409 IPC is reduced to three years.


Based on the above Supreme Court cases it can be inferred the following are the requirements in respect of convicting a person for the extra-judicial confession-

  • The extra-judicial confession is weak evidence by itself. It has to be examined by the court with greater care and caution.
  • It should be made voluntarily and should be truthful.
  • It should inspire confidence.
  • 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.
  • For an extra-judicial confession to be the basis of conviction, it should not suffer from any material discrepancies and inherent improbabilities.
  • Such statement essentially has to be proved like any other fact and in accordance with law.


By: Mr. M. GOVINDARAJAN - October 13, 2018



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