Critical Analytical Note

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Confessions of an accused under the Indian Law

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It is often believed that under no circumstances can a court rely only on inculpatory part of a confession and ignore exculpatory part. However, in Nishi Kant Jha v. State of Bihar, AIR (1969) SC 422, court held that “statement of the accused made under Section 313 Cr. P. C. can either be relied in whole or in part. It may also be possible to rely on the inculpatory part of his statement if the exculpatory part in found to be false on the basis of the evidence led by the prosecution.” This statement was also corroborated with a confession made to the mukhiyaa of the village (extra-judicial confession) and the accused was convicted on the basis of inculpatory part of the confession.

In this case court also considered the then established legal position. In Palvinder Kaur v. The State of Punjab, [1953].S.C.R. 94 Supreme Court stated that the Court cannot accept the inculpatory part of a statement and reject the exculpatory part. However, Supreme Court was of the opinion that in palvinder Kaur case Allahabad HC merely said that:

“(a) where there is other evidence, a portion of the confession may in the light of that evidence; be rejected while acting upon the remainder with the other evidence; and

(b) Where there is no other evidence and the exculpatory element is-not inherently incredible; the court cannot accept the inculpatory element and reject the exculpatory element.”

Hence, ignoring exculpatory part and considering only inculpatory part was a valid legal position. Supreme Court further considered other authorities such as Taylor’s book on Law of Evidence (11th edition), Roscoe’s book on Criminal Evidence (16th Edition, page 52) etc.

Further, Nishi Kant Jha v. State of Bihar is still good law. (It was referred to by SC in Mohan Singh v Prem Singh and another, AIR 2002 SC 3582 and State of Karnataka by C. P. I., Sullia Circle, D. K. v Shekhar V. Harikanth, 2016 Indlaw KAR 4416)

Under such circumstances we can conclude that if a confession can be divided into inculpatory and exculpatory part, and exculpatory part can be excluded by using other evidence; accused can be punished on the basis of inculpatory part of the confession.

 

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