The meaning of “discovery of fact”

The Supreme Court has explained the meaning of “discovery of fact” in consequence of information received from the accused laid down in Section 27 of the Evidence Act in paragraph 35 of “State of Maharashtra V. Damu” reported in (2000) 6 SCC 269, as follows:

“The basic idea embedded in Section 27 of the Evidence Act is the doctrine of confirmation by subsequent events. The doctrine is founded on the principle that if any fact is discovered in a search made on the strength of any information obtained from a prisoner, such a discovery is a guarantee that the information supplied by the prisoner is
true. The information might be confessional or non-inculpatory in nature, but if it results in discovery of a fact it becomes a reliable information. Hence the legislature permitted such information to be used as evidence by restricting the admissible portion to the minimum. It is now well settled that recovery of an object is not discovery of a fact as envisaged in the section. The decision of the Privy Council in “Pulukuri Kottaya V. Emperor” is the most quoted authority for supporting the interpretation that the “fact discovered” envisaged in the section embraces the place from which the object was produced, the knowledge of the accused as to it, but the information given must relate distinctly to that effect.”

It is also pertinent to point out from paragraph 42 of “Vikram Singh and Others V. State of Punjab” reported in (2010) 3 SCC 56 to the effect that the statement made by the person accused of any offence and in the custody of police is relevant under Section 27 of the Evidence Act, if the statement leads to discovery of facts and as such there is no need of formal arrest of the person for making his statement relevant under Section 27 of the Evidence Act. Mr. S. K. Mondal, Learned Senior Counsel appearing on behalf of the State has also relied on “State of Maharashtra V. Suresh” reported in (2000) 1 SCC 471 wherein it is laid down in paragraph 26 that there are three possibilities when an accused person points out the place where a dead body or an incriminating material was concealed without stating that it was concealed by himself. The first possibility is that he himself would have concealed it. The second possibility is that he would have seen somebody else concealing it. The third possibility is that he would have been told by another person that it was concealed there. If the accused person declines to tell the court that his knowledge about the concealment was on account of first two possibilities, the criminal court can presume that it was concealed by the accused himself. This is because the accused is the only person who can offer the explanation as to how else he came to know of such concealment and if he chooses to refrain from telling the court as to how else he came to know of it, the presumption is a well-justified course to be adopted by the court
that the concealment was made by himself.

It is also laid down by the Supreme Court in paragraph 27 of State of Maharashtra V. Suresh (Supra) as follows:
“a false answer offered by the accused when his attention was drawn to the aforesaid circumstance renders that circumstance capable of inculpating him. In a situation like this such a false answer can also be counted as providing “a missing link” for completion of the chain of circumstances.”