Extra Judicial Confession: What is an extra-judicial confession?
- According to the definition of an extrajudicial confession, it is ”a free and voluntary admission of guilt by a person charged with a crime in the course of communication with persons other than the judge or magistrate charged with the accusation against oneself.”
- Extra Judicial Confessions are ones that the accused makes outside of a magistrate chambers or in court. It was not required for the words to be directed at a specific person. It could have been a prayer, for example. It might be an intimate confession.
- Extra-judicial confession is a weak piece of evidence and conviction on the basis of extra-judicial confession cannot be sustained, unless there is some corroboration.
Extra Judicial Confession: Important Judgement
- The matter of Extra Judicial Confession has been observed by the Supreme Court in the case of State of Rajasthan vs Kistoora Ram | Justices BR Gavai and PS Narasimha (28th July 2022) while upholding a High Court judgement which acquitted a murder accused. The bench made up of Justices BR Gavai and PS Narasimha made some observations in reference to the High Court ruling, discussed later.
Background of the Case
In the first instance, this case was decided by Hon’ble District and Sessions Court, convicting the accused and sentencing him to undergo lifetime imprisonment u/s 302 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 and 3-years rigorous imprisonment u/s 201, Indian Penal Code,1860. Then after, an appeal was filed in the Hon’ble High Court of Judicature for Rajasthan at Jodhpur, which acquitted the accused and reversed the judgment of Trial Court. The present case was an outcome of an appeal filed in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, challenging the order of such High Court.
According to the prosecution, the defendant killed his wife with a lathi, dragged her 100 feet from the home, and lit her afire to get rid of the evidence. The trial judge found the accused guilty of the offence punishable under Sections 302 and 201 of the IPC after carefully considering the evidence. The Rajasthan High Court annulled the decision of the Trial Court after accepting the accused’s appeal. The High Court has covered the evidence in great detail. Without a doubt, (PW- 7) has become hostile. The trial court itself expressed scepticism over the apparent retrieval of the incriminating evidence purportedly obtained at the behest of the respondent accused.
”The High Court held that extrajudicial confession was a weak piece of evidence and that the conviction solely based on extrajudicial confession could not be upheld unless there was some form of corroboration, citing this Court’s decision in the cases of State of Punjab v. Bhajan Singh and Others and Gopal Sah v. State of Bihar. It cannot be claimed that the High Court’s position is illogical or perverse enough to warrant our intervention.”
The court reaffirmed that there cannot be a conviction based on an extrajudicial confession because there is no substantial evidence against the accused. Only when extrajudicial confession is accompanied by a series of convincing circumstances does it gain credibility and admissibility as evidence.
The court additionally held that the chain of convincing circumstances was missing in the current instance and that instead the prosecution’s case had been dogged by scepticism from the start.
Conclusion: Evidentiary Value Of Extrajudicial Confession!
It is also established law that an extrajudicial confession is a weak type of evidence, and conviction for the crime of murder ordinarily should not be made solely on the evidence of an extrajudicial confession unless it inspires confidence or is fully corroborated by some other evidence of a clinching nature. Such a series of compelling circumstances are absent from the current case; instead, the prosecution’s case has been dogged by suspicion from the start.