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Report No. 94

4.6. Discretion as to confession.-

The classical example in this field is Noor Mohamed v. R., 1949 AC 182: (1949) 1 All ER 365 (PC). The accused had been convicted of murdering A, the woman with whom he had been living. He was a goldsmith, lawfully possessed of cyanide for that purposes of his busines, and A certainly met her death through cyanide poisoning, although there was no evidence that the poison had been administered by the accused. The accused was on bad terms with her and there was a suggestion that she had committed suicide. The Judicial Committee ruled that the conviction should be quashed because the judge had wrongly admitted evidence in support of an inference that Noor Mohamed, (the accused) had previously caused the death of his wife, Gooriah, with whom also he had been on bad terms, by tricking her into taking cyanide as a cure for toothache. Lord Du Parq, delivering the judgment of the Privy Council, said of this evidence in its application to the facts of the case before him:

"If an examination of it shows that it is impressive just because it appears to demonstrate, in the words of Lord Herschell in Makin case1 'that the accused is a person likely from his criminal conduct or character to have committed the offence for which he is being tried' and if it is otherwise of no real substance, then it was certainly wrongly admitted."

1. Makin v. A.G. for New South Wales, 1894 AC 67 (PC).

Evidence Obtained Illegally or Improperly - Proposed Section 166a of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 Back

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