State of A.P. Vs. E.
Satyanarayana  INSC 864 (30 April 2009)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 40 OF 2004 State
of A.P. ....Appellant Versus E. Satyanarayana ....Respondent
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT,
in this appeal is to the order of the Division Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High
Court directing acquittal of the respondent who faced trial for alleged
commission of murder of his wife and minor son in the intervening night of
Sessions Judge, Nizamabad, had found him guilty of the offence punishable under
Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (in short `IPC') and sentenced him
to undergo imprisonment for life.
whole prosecution case rested on the alleged extra judicial confession
purported to have been made by the accused before the Village Administrative
Officer (PW.1) around 8.00 a.m. The First Information Report was given to the
police at 11.30 a.m. on 15.11.1996. It was indicated in the FIR that the
accused had made a confession before Village Administrative Officer to have
killed the wife and son because of the quarrel over family affairs.
trial Court found the evidence of PW.1 so far as alleged extra judicial confession
is concerned to be reliable and directed the conviction.
In appeal, the
primary stand taken by the accused respondent was that the evidence of PW.1 is
not believable. It contradicts the evidence of PW.2, and the Investigating
Officer. The High Court analaysed the evidence and came to the conclusion that
the so-called extra judicial confession has not been established.
High Court analysed the position in law relating to extra judicial confession,
namely, that the Court has to be satisfied that the so-called extra- judicial
confession is voluntary and not as a result of any inductment, threat or
promise as envisaged in Section 24 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (in short
`Evidence Act') or was brought about in suspicious circumstances to circumvent
Sections 25 and 26 of the Evidence Act.
Rao Shiv Bahadur Singh v. State of Vindhya Pradesh (AIR 1954 SC 322), and
Maghar Singh v. State of Punjab (AIR 1975 SC 1320), this Court held that the
evidence in the form of extra-judicial confession made by the accused to
witnesses cannot be always termed to be a tainted evidence.
Corroboration of such
evidence is required only by way of abundant caution.
If the court believes
the witness before whom the confession is made and is satisfied that the confession
was true and voluntarily made, then conviction can be found on such evidence
alone. In Narayan Singh v. State of M.P. (AIR 1985 SC 1678) this Court
cautioned that it is not open to the court trying the criminal case to start
with a presumption that extra judicial confession is always a weak type of
evidence. It would depend on the nature of the circumstances, the time when the
confession is made and the credibility of the witnesses who speak for such a
confession. The retraction of extra judicial confession which is a usual
phenomenon in criminal cases would by itself not weaken the case of the
prosecution based upon such a confession. In Kishore Chand v. State of H.P.
(AIR 1990 SC 2140) this Court held that an unambiguous extra judicial confession
possesses high probative value force as it emanates from the person who
committed the crime and is admissible in evidence provided it is free from
suspicion and suggestion of any falsity. However, before relying on the alleged
confession, the court has to be satisfied that it is voluntary and is not the
result of inductment, threat or promise envisaged under Section 24 of the
Evidence Act or was brought about in suspicious circumstances to circumvent
Sections 25 and 26. The Court is required to look into the surrounding
circumstances to find out as to whether such confession is not inspired by any
improper or collateral consideration or circumvention of law suggesting that it
may not be true. All relevant circumstances such as the person to whom the confession
is made, the time and place of making it, the circumstances in which it was
made have to be scrutinized. To the same effect is the judgment in Baldev Raj
v. State of Haryana (AIR 1991 SC 37).
After referring to
the judgment in Piara Singh v. State of Punjab (AIR 1977 SC 2274), this Court
in Madan Gopal Kakkad v. Naval Dubey (1992 (3) SCC 204) held that the extra
judicial confession which is not obtained by coercion, promise of favour or
false hope and is plenary in character and voluntary in nature can be made the
basis for conviction even without corroboration.
counsel for the appellant-State submitted that the evidence of PW.1 should not
have been discarded by the High Court as he was a person on whom the accused
could have reposed confidence as he was the Village Administrative Officer.
Additionally, it is submitted that minor discrepancies in the evidence of PW.1
vis-`-vis other witnesses should not have been magnified to direct acquittal.
Learned counsel for the respondent, on the other hand, supported the judgment
of the High Court.
find there are some relevant aspects which High Court has rightly taken note
of. Firstly, the extra-judicial confession is said to have been made at about
8.00 a.m. The First Information Report was given at 11.30 a.m. It has not been
explained as to why there was delay in lodging the FIR by the Village
Administrative Officer. The evidence of PW.2 shows that police was in the house
of the accused around 8.00 a.m. If that be so, the first thing PW.1 would have
done was to report to the police about the extra- judicial confession. That
apparently has not been done. PW.1 stated that after the extra judicial
confession was made, he asked two persons to keep a watch over the accused and
then the police came and the accused was handed over to the police officials.
This runs contrary to the evidence of PW.14 who has clearly admitted that the
position was not so.
piece of material on which the trial Court had placed reliance related to the recovery
of the blood stained sickle on the basis of the disclosure made by the accused.
The High Court has noticed that the police was at the place of occurrence from
8.00 a.m. till 4.00 p.m. If that was so, no explanation has been offered as to
why the blood stained sickle in the house of the accused was not noticed. The
conclusions of the High Court leave no manner of doubt that the judgment of the
High Court does not suffer from any infirmity to warrant interference.
appeal is dismissed.
record our appreciation for the able assistance rendered by Mr. Nikhil Goel who
acted as Amicus Curiae in this case.
(Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT)
....................................J. (D.K. JAIN)