SC on evidentiary value of admissions made before a police officer

Today, i.e. on 24th April 2019, the Hon’ble Supreme Court, in the matter of Dipakbhai Jagdishchandra Patel v. State Of Gujarat And Another, pronounced that in a case where statement containing not a confession but admission, which is otherwise relevant and which is made before the investigation commences, may be admissible. 

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

At the stage of framing the charge what the Court is expected to do is, it does not act as a mere post office. The Court must indeed sift the material before it. The material to be sifted would be the material which is produced and relied upon by the prosecution. The sifting is not to be meticulous in the sense that the Court dons the mantle of the Trial Judge hearing arguments after the entire evidence has been adduced after a full-fledged trial and the question is not whether the prosecution has made out the case for the conviction of the accused. All that is required is, the Court must be satisfied that with the materials available, a case is made out for the accused to stand trial.(Para 21)

A strong suspicion suffices. However, a strong suspicion must be founded on some material. The material must be such as can be translated into evidence at the stage of trial. The strong suspicion cannot be the pure subjective satisfaction based on the moral notions of the Judge that here is a case where it is possible that accused has committed the offence. Strong suspicion must be the suspicion which is premised on some material which commends itself to the court as sufficient to entertain the prima facie view that the accused has committed the offence. (Para 21)

A person who stands in the shoes of the accused being named in the First Information Report, can be examined by the Police Officer under Section 161 of the Cr.PC. (Para 37)

Unless a person is accused of an offence, he cannot claim the protection of Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India. (Para 39)

Person who is named in the FIR, i.e., the accused in the eyes of law, can indeed be questioned and the statement is taken by the Police Officer. A confession, which is made to a Police Officer, would be inadmissible having regard to Section 25 of the Evidence Act. A confession, which is vitiated under Section 24 of the Evidence Act would also be inadmissible. (Para 40)

Even if a statement contains admission, the statement being one under Section 161, it would immediately attract the bar under Section 162 of the Cr.PC. (Para 40)

Bar under Section 162 Cr.PC, no doubt, operates in regard to the statement made to a Police Officer in between two points of time, viz., from the beginning of the investigation till the termination of the same. In a case where statement containing not a confession but admission, which is otherwise relevant and which is made before the investigation commences, may be admissible. (Para 41)

Statement given under Section 161, even if relevant, as it contains an admission, would not be admissible, though an admission falling short of a confession which may be made otherwise, may become substantive evidence. (Para 46)

A confession made to a Police Officer is clearly inadmissible. (Para 47)

Copy of judgement: Judgement_24-Apr-2019

-Tushar Kaushik

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