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SECTION 27 OF EVIDENCE ACT



1. Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act reads as under: "27. How much of information received from accused may be proved. Provided that, when any fact is deposed to as discovered in consequence of information received from a person accused of any offence, in the custody of a police officer, so much of such information, whether it amounts to a confession or not, as relates distinctly to the fact thereby discovered, may be proved."

2. The information disclosed by the evidences leading to the discovery of a fact which is based on mental state of affair of the accused is, thus, admissible in evidence. Relevance of discovery of a fact in contradiction to an object was highlighted by the Privy Council in Pulukuri Kottaya and others v. Emperor [AIR 1947 PC 67], wherein it was stated: "Section 27, which is not artistically worded, provides an exception to the prohibition imposed by the preceding section, and enables certain statements made by a person in police custody to be proved. The condition necessary to bring the section into operation is that discovery of a fact in consequence of information received from a person accused of any offence in the custody of a Police Officer must be deposed to, and thereupon so much of the information as relates distinctly to the fact thereby discovered may be proved. The section seems to be based on the view that if a fact is actually discovered in consequence of information given, some guarantee is afforded thereby that the information was true, and accordingly can be safely allowed to be given in evidence; but clearly the extent of the information admissible must depend on the exact nature of the fact discovered to which such information is required to relate. Normally the section is brought into operation when a person in police custody produces from some place of concealment some object, such as a dead body, a weapon, or ornaments, said to be connected with the crime of which the informant is accused. " It was furthermore observed : "On normal principles of construction their Lordships think that the proviso to S.26, added by S.27, should not be held to nullify the substance of the section. In their Lordships' view it is fallacious to treat the 'fact discovered' within the section as equivalent to the object produced; the fact discovered embraces the place from which the object is produced and the knowledge of the accused as to this, and the information given must relate distinctly to this fact. Information as to past user, or the past history, of the object produced is not related to its discovery in the setting in which it is discovered. Information supplied by a person in custody that "I will produce a knife concealed in the roof of my house" does not lead to the discovery of a knife; knives were discovered many years ago. It leads to the discovery of the fact that a knife is concealed in the house of the informant to his knowledge, and if the knife is proved to have been used in the commission of the offence, the fact discovered is very relevant. But if to the statement the words be added 'with which I stabbed A' these words are not admissible since they do not relate to the discovery of the knife in the house of the informant."

3. The said decision has been cited with approval in a large number of cases by Supreme Court. Supreme Court in Jaipur Development Authority v. Radhey Shyam [(1999) 4 SCC 370] opined that when an object is discovered from an isolated place pointed out by the appellant, the same would be admissible in evidence.

4. We may also refer to a recent decision of Supreme Court in State (NCT of Delhi) v. Navjot Sandhu alias Afsan Guru [(2005) 11 SCC 600] wherein this Court opined: "The history of case law on the subject of confessions under Section 27 unfolds divergent views and approaches. The divergence was mainly on twin aspects:
(i) Whether the facts contemplated by Section 27 are physical, material objects or the mental facts of which the accused giving the information could be said to be aware of. Some Judges have gone to the extent of holding that the discovery of concrete facts, that is to say material objects, which can be exhibited in the Court are alone covered by Section 27.
(ii) The other controversy was on the point regarding the extent of admissibility of a disclosure statement. In some cases a view was taken that any information, which served to connect the object with the offence charged, was admissible under Section 27. The decision of the Privy Council in Kotayya's case, which has been described as a locus classicus, had set at rest much of the controversy that centered round the interpretation of Section 27. To a great extent the legal position has got crystallized with the rendering of this decision. The authority of Privy Council's decision has not been questioned in any of the decisions of the highest Court either in the pre or post independence era. Right from 1950s, till the advent of the new century and till date, the passages in this famous decision are being approvingly quoted and reiterated by the Judges of Supreme Court. Yet, there remain certain grey areas as demonstrated by the arguments advanced on behalf of the State."

5. In Hanumant v. The State of Madhya Pradesh [1952 SCR 1091], Supreme Court in the fact situation obtaining therein opined : "It is settled law that an admission made by a person whether amounting to a confession or not cannot be split up and part of it used against him. An admission must be used either as a whole or not at all. If the statement of the accused is used as whole, it completely demolishes the prosecution case and, if it is not used at all, then there remains no material on the record from which any inference could be drawn that the letter was not written on the date it bears."

6. In Palvinder Kaur vs. The State of Punjab, [1953 SCR 94], Supreme Court held: "Not only was the High Court in error in treating the alleged confession of Palvinder as evidence in the case but it was further in error in accepting a part of it after finding that the rest of it was false. It said that the statement that the deceased took poison by mistake should be ruled out of consideration for the simple reason that if the deceased had taken poison by mistake the conduct of the parties would have been completely different, and that she would have then run to his side and raised a hue and cry and would have sent immediately for medical aid, that it was incredible that if the deceased had taken poison by mistake, his wife would have stood idly by and allowed him to die. The court thus accepted the inculpatory part of that statement and rejected the exculpatory part. In doing so it contravened the well accepted rule regarding the use of confession and admission that these must either be accepted as a whole or rejected as a whole and that the court is not competent to accept only the inculpatory part while rejecting the exculpatory part as inherently incredible"

7. In Aher Raja Khima vs. State of Saurashtra [AIR 1956 SC 217], Supreme Court held: "Now the law is clear that a confession cannot be used against an accused person unless the Court is satisfied that it was voluntary and at that stage the question whether it is true or false does not arise. It is abhorrent to our notions of justice and fair play, and is also dangerous, to allow a man to be convicted on the strength of a confession unless it is made voluntarily and unless he realises that anything he says may be used against him; and any attempt by a person in authority to bully a person into making a confession or any threat or coercion would at once invalidate it if the fear was still operating on his mind at the time he makes the confession and if it would appear to him reasonable for supposing that by making it he would gain any advantage or avoid any evil of a temporal nature in reference to the proceedings against him: Section 24 of the Indian Evidence Act. That is why the recording of a confession is hedged around with so many safeguards and is the reason why Magistrates ordinarily allow a period for reflection and why an accused person is remanded to jail custody and is put out of the reach of the investigating police before he is asked to make his confession. But the force of these precautions is destroyed when, instead of isolating the accused from the investigating police, he is for all practical purposes sent back to them for a period of ten days. It can be accepted that this was done in good faith and we also think that the police acted properly in sending the appellant up for the recording of his confession on the 21st; they could not have anticipated this long remand to so-called jail custody. But that is hardly the point. The fact remains that the remand was made and that that opened up the very kind of opportunities which the rules and prudence say should be guarded against; and, as the police are as human as others, a reasonable apprehension can be entertained that they would be less than human if they did not avail themselves of such a chance."

8. In Subramania Goundan v. The State of Madras [1958 SCR 428], Supreme Court held: "The next question is whether there is corroboration of the confession since it has been retracted. A confession of a crime by a person, who has perpetrated it, is usually the outcome of penitence and remorse and in normal circumstances is the best evidence against the maker. The question has very often arisen whether a retracted confession may form the basis of conviction if believed to be true and voluntarily made. For the purpose of arriving at this conclusion the court has to take into consideration not only the reasons given for making the confession or retracting it but the attending facts and circumstances surrounding the same. It may be remarked that there can be no absolute rule that a retracted confession cannot be acted upon unless the same is corroborated materially..."

9. In Navjot Sandhu alias Afsan Guru (supra), Supreme Court opined: "Confessions are considered highly reliable because no rational person would make admission against his interest unless prompted by his conscience to tell the truth. "Deliberate and voluntary confessions of guilt, if clearly proved are among the most effectual proofs in law". (vide Taylor's Treatise on the Law of Evidence Vol. I). However, before acting upon a confession the court must be satisfied that it was freely and voluntarily made. A confession by hope or promise of advantage, reward or immunity or by force or by fear induced by violence or threats of violence cannot constitute evidence against the maker of confession. The confession should have been made with full knowledge of the nature and consequences of the confession. If any reasonable doubt is entertained by the court that these ingredients are not satisfied, the court should eschew the confession from consideration. So also the authority recording the confession - be it a Magistrate or some other statutory functionary at the pre-trial stage, must address himself to the issue whether the accused has come forward to make the confession in an atmosphere free from fear, duress or hope of some advantage or reward induced by the persons in authority. Recognizing the stark reality of the accused being enveloped in a state of fear and panic, anxiety and despair while in police custody, the Indian Evidence Act has excluded the admissibility of a confession made to the police officer."




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