Sahoo Vs. State of U.P  INSC 39
(16 February 1965)
16/02/1965 SUBBARAO, K.
CITATION: 1966 AIR 40 1965 SCR (3) 86
CITATOR INFO :
R 1985 SC 48 (15)
self-incriminating statement to himself--Whether amounts to
confession--Communication to another person whether necessary.
The Sessions Judge in convicting the
appellant of murder took into account an extra-judicial confession alleged to
have been made by him when shortly after the murder he was muttering to himself
that he had finished the deceased. The High Court confirmed the conviction. In
appeal before this Court it was contended that the muttering of the accused did
not amount to a confession as it was implicit in the concept of confession
whether judicial or extra judicial that it should be communicated to another. A
man can. not confess to himself; he can only confess to another.
HELD: (i) Sections 24 to 30 of the Evidence
Act deal with the admissibility of confessions, but the expression 'confession'
is not defined. Shortly stated a confession is a statement made by an accused
admitting his guilt. [88 E] Pakala Narayana v. R.L.R. 66 I.A. 66, referred to.
(ii) It is not a necessary ingredient of the
term confession that it shall be communicated to another. The dictionary
meaning of the term does not warrant any such extension, nor the reason of the
rule underlying the doctrine of admission or confession demands it. The
probative nature of an admission or confession does not depend on its
communication to another though just like any other piece of evidence can be
admitted in evidence only on proof. The following illustration pertaining to a
written confession brings out the idea: A kills B; enters in his diary that he
had killed him, puts it in his drawer and absconds. When he places his act on
record he does not communicate to another;
indeed he does not have any intention of
communicating it to a third party. Even so at the trial the said state agent of
the accused can certainly be proved as a confession made by him. If that be so
in the case of a statement in writing, there cannot be any difference in
principle in the case of an oral statement, [88 H-89 C] Bhogilal Chunilal
Pandya v. State of Bombay,  Supp. 1 S.C.R.310,reliedon.
(iii) But there is a clear distinction
between the admissibility of an item. of evidence and the weight to be attached
to it. A confessional soliloquy is a direct piece of evidence. Generally such
soliloquies are mutterings of a confused mind. Before such evidence can be
accepted it must be established by cogent evidence what were the exact words
used by the accused. Even if so much was established prudence and justice
demand that such evidence cannot be made the sole ground of conviction. It may
be used only as a corroborative piece of evidence. [90 B, D] In the present
case the confession along with the other evidence of circumstances was
sufficient to prove the guilt of the appellant.
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Criminal Appeal
No. 248 of 1964.
87 Appeal from the judgment and order dated
September 16, 1964 of the Allahabad High Court in Criminal Appeal No. 348 of
1964 and capital sentence No. 26 of 1964.
P.C. Khanna, for the appellant.
O.P. Rana, for the respondent.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Subba Rao, J. Sahoo, the appellant, is a resident of Pachperwa in the District
of Gonda. He has two sons, Badri and Kirpa Shanker. He lost his wife years ago.
His eldest son, Badri, married one Sunderpatti. Badri was employed in Lucknow,
and his wife was residing with his father. It is said that Sunderpatti
developed illicit intimacy with Sahoo;
but there were incessant quarrels between
them. On August 12, 1963, during one of those quarrels,Sunderpatti ran away to
the house of one Mohammed Abdullah ,a neighbour of theirs. The appellant
brought her buck, and after some wordy altercation between them they slept in
the only room of their house. The only other inmate of the house was the
appellant's second son, Kirpa Shanker, a lad of about 8 years. On the morning
of August 13, 1963, Sunderpatti was found with serious injuries in the room of
the house where she was sleeping and the appellant was not in the house.
Sunderpatti was admitted in the Sadar
Hospital Gonda, at 5.25 p.m. on that day and she died on August 26, 1963 at 3
p.m. Sahoo was sent up for trial before the Court of Sessions, Gonda, on a
charge under s. 302 of the Indian Penal Code.
The learned Sessions Judge, on a
consideration of the entire evidence came to the conclusion that Sahoo killed
Sunderpatti. On that finding, he convicted the accused under s. 302 of the
Indian Penal Code and sentenced him to death.
On appeal, a Division Bench of the High Court
at Allahabad confirmed both the conviction and the sentence. Hence the appeal.
Except for an extra-judicial confession, the
entire evidence in the case is circumstantial. Before we advert to the
arguments advanced in the appeal it will be convenient to narrate the
circumstances found by the High Court, which are as follows: (1) The accused
had illicit connections with the deceased; (2) the deceased and the accused had
some quarrel on the Janmashtami day in the evening and the deceased had to be
persuaded through the influence of their neighbors, Mohammed Abdullah and his
womenfolk, to go back to the house of the accused; (3) the deceased was seen in
the company of the accused for the fast time when she was alive; (4) during the
fateful night 3 persons, namely. the accused. the deceased and the accused's
second son, Kirpa Shanker (P.W. 17), slept in the room inside the house; (5) on
the early morning of next day, P.W. 17 was asked by his father to go out to
attend to calls of nature, and when he came back to the verandah of the house
he heard some gurgling sound and he saw his father going out of the house
murmuring something; and (6) P. Ws. 9, 11, 13 88 and 15 saw the accused going
out of the house at about 6 a.m. on that day soliloquying that he had finished
Sunderpatti and thereby finished the daily quarrels.
This Court in a series of decisions has
reaffirmed the following well-settled rule of "circumstantial
The circumstances from which the conclusion
of guilt is to be drawn should be in the first instance fully established.
"All the facts so established should be
consistent only with the hypothesis of the guilt of the accused and the
circumstances should be of a conclusive nature and tendency that they should be
such as to exclude other hypotheses but the one proposed to be proved."
Before we consider whether the circumstances narrated above would stand the
said rigorous test, we will at the outset deal with the contention that the
soliloquy of the accused admitting his guilt was not an extra-judicial
confession as the Courts below held it to be. If it was an extra-judicial
confession, it would really partake the character of direct evidence rather
than that of circumstantial evidence. It is argued that it is implicit in the
concept of confession, whether it is extra-judicial or judicial, that it shall
be communicated to another. It is said that one cannot confess to himself: he
can only confess to another. This raises an interesting point, which fails to
be decided on a consideration of the relevant provisions of the Evidence Act.
Sections 24 to 30 of the Evidence Act deal with the admissibility of
confessions by accused persons in criminal cases. But the expression
"confession" is not defined. The Judicial Committee in Pakala
Narayana v. R.(1) has defined the said expression thus:
"A confession is a statement made by an
accused' which must either admit in terms the offence. or at any rate
substantially all the facts which constitute the offence." A scrutiny of
the provisions of ss. 17 to 30 of the Evidence Act discloses, as one learned
author puts it, that statement is a genus. admission is the species and
confession is the sub-species. Shortly stated, a confession is a statement made
by an accused admitting his guilt. What does the expression
"statement" mean? The dictionary meaning of the word "statement"
is "the act of stating, reciting or presenting verbally or on paper."
The term "statement" therefore, includes both oral and written
statements. Is it also a necessary ingredient of the term that it shall be
communicated to another? The dictionary meaning of the term does not warrant
any such extension; nor the reason of the rule underlying the doctrine of
admission or confession demands it. Admissions and confessions are exceptions
to the hearsay rule. The Evidence Act places them in the category of relevant
evidence, presumably on the ground that, as they are declarations against the
interest of the person making them, they are probably true. The probative value
of 89 an admission or a confession does not depend upon its communication to
another, though, just like any other piece of evidence, it can be admitted in
evidence only on proof.
This proof in the case of oral admission or
confession can be offered only by witnesses who heard the admission or
confession, as the case may be. The following illustration pertaining to a
written confession brings out the said idea:
A kills B; enters in his diary that he had
killed him, puts it in his drawer and absconds. When he places his act on
record, he does not communicate to another; indeed, he does not have any
intention of communicating it to a third party.
Even so, at the trial the said statement of
the accused can certainly be proved as a confession made by him. If that be so
in the case of a statement in writing, there cannot be any difference in principle
in the case of an oral statement. Both must stand on the same footing. This
aspect of the doctrine of confession received some treatment from well known
authors on evidence, like Taylor, Best and Phipson. In "A Treatise on the
Law of Evidence" by Taylor, 11th Edn., Vol. I, the following statement
appears at p. 596:
"What the accused has been overheard
muttering to himself, or saying to his wife or to any other person in
confidence, will be receivable in evidence." In "The Principles of
the Law of Evidence" by W.M. Best, 12th Edn., at p. 454, it is stated much
to the same effect thus:
"Words addressed to others, and writing,
are no doubt the most usual forms; but words uttered in soliloquy seem equally
receivable." We also find the following passage in "Phipson on
Evidence", 7th Edn., at p. 262:
"A statement which the prisoner had been
overheard muttering to himself,f, if otherwise than in his sleep, is admissible
against him, if independently proved." These passages establish that
communication to another is not a necessary ingredient of the concept of
In this context a decision of this Court in
Bhogilal Chunilal Pandya v The State of Bombay(1) may usefully be referred to.
There the question was whether a former statement made by a witness within the
meaning of $. 157 of the Evidence Act should have been communicated to another
before it could be used to corroborate the testimony of another witness. This
Court, after considering the relevant provisions of the Evidence Act and the
case-law on the subject came to the conclusion that the word
"statement" used in s. 157 meant only "something that is
stated" and the element of communication was not necessary before
"something that is stated" became a statement under that section. If,
as we have said, statement is the genus and confession is only a sub-species of
that genus, we do not see any reason why the statement implied in the
confession should be given (1)  Supp. 1 S.C.R. 310.
90 a different meaning. We, therefore, hold
that a statement, whether communicated or not, admitting guilt is a confession
But, there is a clear distinction between the
admissibility of an evidence and the weight to be attached to it. A
confessional soliloquy is a direct piece of evidence. It may be an expression
of conflict of emotion; a conscious effort to stifle the pricked conscience; an
argument to find excuse or justification for his act; or a penitent or
remorseful act of exaggeration of his part in the crime. The tone may be soft
and low; the words may be confused; they may be capable of conflicting
interpretations depending on witnesses, whether they are biased or honest,
intelligent or ignorant, imaginative or prosaic, as the case may be. Generally
they are mutterings of a confused mind.
Before such evidence can be accepted, it must
be established by cogent evidence what were the exact words used by the
accused. Even if so much was established, prudence and justice demand that such
evidence cannot be made the sole ground of conviction. It may be used only as a
corroborative piece of evidence.
The circumstances found by the High Court,
which we have stated earlier, lead to the only conclusion that the accused must
have committed the murder. No other reasonable hypothesis was or could be suggested.
Further, in this case, as we have noticed
earlier, P.W.s 11, 13 and 15 deposed that they clearly heard the accused say
when he opened the door of the house and came out at 60'clock in the morning of
the fateful day that he had "finished Sunderpatti, his daughter-in-law,
and thereby finished the daily quarrels". We hold that this extra-
judicial confession is relevant evidence: it certainly corroborates the
circumstantial evidence adduced in the .case.
In the result, we agree with the conclusion
arrived at by the High Court both in regard to the conviction and the sentence.
The appeal fails and is dismissed.