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Report No. 69

9.11. Scheme of the sections.-

The scheme of the sections is as follows. Every statement suggesting an inferences to a fact in issue or a relevant fact is, subject to certain qualifications, an admission by virtue of section 17, provided it is made by the parties or other persons specified, and under the circumstances specified, in sections 18 to 20. If a statement amounts to an admission by virtue of the provisions just now referred to, its relevancy is provided for by section 21- unless, of course, there are provisions excluding it from evidence either in the Act it in any other law.

The Act itself furnishes examples of such exclusionary rules-in section 22 (oral admission as to contents of documents) which applies in all cases; in section 23, which, in civil cases, excludes an admission made on the express condition that evidence of it is not to be given; and in sections 24 to 26, which apply to confessions. The exclusionary rules in sections 24 to 26 are, however, themselves subject to certain qualifications, which are contained in sections 27 to 29. In section 30, there is a provision for "taking into consideration" he confession of a co-accused, in certain cases. Section 31 provides that admissions ire not conclusive proof, but may operate as estoppels.

We may now consider each section in detail.

9.12. Section 17 analysed.-

Section 17 defines an admission as "a statement oral or documentary, which suggests any inference as to any fact in issue or relevant fact, and which is made by any of the persons and under the circumstances, hereinafter mentioned".

9.13. Thus, this section lays down three requirements. It must be a statement secondly, it must suggest any inference as to a fact in issue or a relevant fact; an( thirdly, it must be made by the specified person and under the specified circumstances.

9.14. The first requirement presents no problems. The statement must be oral or documentary-so that admissions by conduct do not fall under this section though they can become relevant under section 8 or other section applicable of the facts1.

1. See introduction, supra.

9.15. As regards the second requirement, it is enough if the statement suggest an inference as to a fact in issue or a relevant fact. The words referring to "suggesting an inference" are obviously intended to include statements which do not amount to a direct admission of a fact in issue or a relevant fact, but which suggest an inference about it. Of course, when one turns to confessions, the scope of "confession", in the scheme of the Act, is restricted. Stephen's definition of "confession" as an "admission made at any time by a person charged with crime stating or suggesting the inference that he committed the crime",1 is not applicable to the Indian Evidence Act2.

1. Stephen's Digest, Article 22.

2. Pakala Narainaswamy v. Emperor, AIR 1939 PC 47 (52).

9.16. Thirdly, the statement must be made by the specified person and under the specified circumstances.

9.17. Apart from the cases specifically mentioned in section 17 read with sections 18 to 20, it may be noted that statements made by a person may bind others. One such example is furnished by section 10, under which declaration: etc. of a co-conspirator, when made in reference to the common intention of the conspirators, are relevant against the co-conspirators.

9.18. Admission in criminal cases.-

In the scheme of the Act, the expression "admission" is applicable to criminal cases also. In Sahoo's case1, it was observed that statement is a genus, admission is the species and confession is the sub-specie. It was also observed that admissions and confessions are exceptions to the hearsay rule. In the same case, it was held that it was not necessary that a statement in order that it may amount to an admission, should have been communicated Words not addressed to others but uttered in soliloquy, or uttered in confidence would be admissible against the person uttering them, if independently proved The Supreme Court gave the following hypothetical illustration:-

"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."

Of Course with reference to oral statement put in the illustration given by the Supreme Court, independent proof will required.

1. Sahoo v. State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 1966 SC 40 (42), para. 5.

9.19. Admissions and confessions.-

It may be noted that "confession" is narrower than "admission". Under the Act, acknowledgment of a subordinate act, though incriminating, would not be a confession, though it would be an admission. Every confession is an admission, but every admission is not a confession.1 This is obvious from the fact that sections 24 to 30 deliberately use the word "confession", as distinct from "admission". If the two were identical, here was no need to use the expression "confession"-an aspect which has been dealt with elaborately in one of the earlier Punjab cases2.

It is for this reason that here is no bar to the admissibility of an admission of any relevant fact made by an accused person to a police officer prior to the commencement of an investigation.3 The statement may be admissible in evidence as an admission4, if it is not hit by the excluding sections of the Evidence Act relating to confession, or by section 162 of the Code of Criminal Procedure5.

1. Neetai Chandra v. Emperor, AIR 1937 Cal 433 (445).

2. Illahi Bux v. Emperor, 1886 Punj Record No. 16 Crim 28 (31).

3. Lachhuman v. State of Bihar, AIR 1964 Pat 210 (212).

4. Harnam Kisha v. Emperor, AIR 1935 Born 26.

5. Akbal Sahu v. Emperor, AIR 1948 Pat 62.

9.20. Reference may also be made to a case1 decided by the Privy Council, which related to a trial for murder.

1. Anandagoda v. Queen, (1962) 1 WLR 817 (821, 823) (PC).

9.21. The Ceylon Evidence Ordinance came up for construction in that case1. by section 25 of the Ceylon Evidence Ordinance: "No confession made to a police officer shall be proved as against a person accused of any offence".

1. Anandagoda v. Queen, (1962) 1 WLR 817 (821, 823) (PC).

9.22. By section 17: "(1) An admission is a statement, oral or documentary, which suggests any inference as to any fact in issue or relevant fact; (2) A confession is an admission made at any time by a person accused of an offence stating or suggesting the inference that he committed that offence".

9.23. The Privy Council had to consider the question whether certain statements made by the accused to a police officer were admissions or confessions. Those statements narrated the relationship between the accused and the murdered woman; but they did not admit guilt as such. The Privy Council held that with reference to section 25, quoted above, the correct view was that taken by Acting Chief Justice Garvin in a Ceylon case1 where he stated, after quoting section 17.

"The term 'admission' is the genus of which 'confession' is the species. It is not every statement which suggests any inference as to any fact in issue or relevant fact which is a confession, but only a statement made by a person accused of an offence whereby he states that he committed that offence or which suggests no any inference but the inference that he committed that offence".

1. King v. Cooray, (1926) 28 NLR 74 (Ceylon).

9.24. Any doubt in this regard would disappear if one bears in mind the fact that confessions become relevant only because they fall within sections 5, 17; and 21. Section 21 constitutes the provision, and the only provision, that make admissions relevant. If that section is kept aside, there is no other section providing for the relevancy of confessions specifically.

No change recommended.-The above discussion does not disclose any need for amending the definition.

Indian Evidence Act, 1872 Back

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