kartik mago 2 Apr 2019


Understanding Confessions

A confession can be defined as any person admitting his guilt while being in custody. He states that he is guilty of the offence he is charged for. In the words of Justice Stephen, a “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.

Even the Supreme Court has opined that confessions are the highest degree of reliable sources because no person would be willing to face the repercussions of the crime he has not committed. He will confess only when he is actually guilty of that crime and genuinely feels he should be punished.[1]

Any statement which contains self blaming matter which is false, would not amount to a confession merely because the person has stated it. There needs to be strong evidences also to support that confession.


Statements recorded by Magistrate

The statement by the accused needs to be recorded to serve the following purposes:

Firstly, to discourage the witness from changing their statements again and again.

Secondly, to get over the immunity from the prosecution in regard to information given by the witness under section 162 of the code.

The legal provision in this regards is Section 164, Code of Criminal Procedure.


Section 164 Decoded

Section 164(1) gives the Magistrate the authority for recording a person's confession or statement. There is no jurisdictional issue involved. This means it doesn't matter whether he has a jurisdiction over that person or not to record the statement.  In case he doesn't possess jurisdiction, then he has to forward the recorded statement/confession to the Magistrate who is legally empowered to try the case.

Section 164(2) acts as a warning. The Magistrate has to inform the person willing to make a statement/confession that he is not legally bound to do so and that such statement may act as an evidence against the person who has made it. Also, the Magistrate will not record the statement unless he is fully satisfied that such statement/confession is being made voluntarily, and not under any pressure.

The Indian Courts have observed that where the confession is made by the accused and recorded by the Magistrate, but the latter failed to make the former aware of the warning under Section 164(2), such confession cannot be taken into consideration by Courts.[2]

Section 164(3) guarantees that the person who is willing to confess or make a statement is not pressurized by the police to do so. When the accused

The fourth clause of Section 164 talks about manner of recording confessions. It states that these must be recorded in accordance to Section 281of Code of Criminal Procedure and shall be signed by the person making it. The Magistrate is to then make a memo. Signing a printed confession will be violative of this section.

One of the mandatory requirements is that the confession once recorded must be signed by the accused. This is to maintain transparency. The confession has to be attested while being made before any officer in Court who is trying the case.

Section 164(5) lays down the manner of recording a statement by witness. It can be recorded even when the chargesheet has already been filed. While sub section 6 of section 164 states that in case he doesn't possess jurisdiction, then he has to forward the recorded statement/confession to the Magistrate who is legally empowered to try the case.


Recorded Statement: Public or Private?

The statement which is recorded by Judicial Magistrate or Metropolitan Magistrate under section 164 CrPC is a public document under Section 74 of Indian Evidence Act,1872. This evidence is admissible under Section 80 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.

The statement of witness recorded under section 164 CrPC, is a public document which does not require any formal proof and there is no necessity to summon the magistrate who records the same[3]


Principles to be Followed

The Supreme Court had laid down the following principles:[4]

1.      The provisions of Section 164 Cr.P.C. must be complied with not only in form but in essence.

2.      Before proceeding to record the confessional statement, a searching enquiry must be made from the accused as to the custody from which he was produced and the treatment he had been receiving in such custody in order to ensure that there is no scope for doubt of any sort of extraneous influence proceeding from a source interested in the prosecution.

3.      A Magistrate should ask the accused as to why he wants to make a statement which surely shall go against his interest in the trial.

4.      The maker should be granted sufficient time for reflection.

5.      He should be assured of protection from any sort of apprehended torture or pressure from the police in case he declines to make a confessional statement.

6.      A judicial confession not given voluntarily is unreliable, more so, when such a confession is retracted, the conviction cannot be based on such retracted judicial confession.

7.      Non-compliance with Section 164 Cr.P.C. goes to the root of the Magistrate’s jurisdiction to record the confession and renders the confession unworthy of credence.

8.      During the time of reflection, the accused should be completely out of police influence. The judicial officer, who is entrusted with the duty of recording confession, must apply his judicial mind to ascertain and satisfy his conscience that the statement of the accused is not on account of any extraneous influence on him.

9.      At the time of recording the statement of the accused, no police or police officer shall be present in the open court.

10.  Confession of a co-accused is a weak type of evidence.

11.  Usually, the Court requires some corroboration from the confessional statement before convicting the accused person on such a statement

[1] State (NCT of Delhi) v. Navjot Sandhu

[2] Mahabir Singh v. State of Haryana

[3] Guruvind Palli Anna Roa And others v. State of Andhra Pradesh 2003 (2) ALD Cri 60

[4] Rabindra Kumar Pal v. Republic of India

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easrat   28 Jun 2020 9:39pm
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