Evidence Act 1872

Evidentiary value of confession

In Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, after referring to several judgments of this Court on the evidentiary value of confession particularly judgment of this Court in Nalini, this Court summed up the position of law on the evidentiary value of confession. The relevant conclusions could be quoted.

105. To sum up, it can easily be inferred that the position of law on the evidentiary value of confession is as under:

(i) If the confessional statement is properly recorded satisfying the mandatory provision of Section 15 of TADA and the Rules made thereunder, and if the same is found by the court as having been made voluntarily and truthfully then the said confession is sufficient to base conviction on the maker of the confession.

(ii) Whether such confession requires corroboration or not, is a matter for the court to consider on the basis of the facts of each case.

(iii) With regard to the use of such confession as against a co-accused, it has to be held that as a matter of caution, a general corroboration should be sought for but in cases where the court is satisfied that the probative value of such confession is such that it does not require corroboration then it may base conviction on the basis of such confession of the co-accused without corroboration. But this is an exception to the general rule of requiring corroboration when such confession is to be used against a co-accused.

(iv) The nature of corroboration required both in regard to the use of confession against the maker as also in regard to the use of the same against a co-accused is of a general nature, unless the court comes to the conclusion that such corroboration should be on material facts also because of the facts of a particular case. The degree of corroboration so required is that which is necessary for a prudent man to believe in the existence of facts mentioned in the confessional statement.

In Kalawati and Another Vs. The State of Himachal Pradesh, supreme  Court stated that the amount of credibility to be attached to a retracted confession would depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case. Again in State of Tamil Nadu Vs. Kutty @ Lakshmi Narasimhan, Apex Court stated that a retracted confession may form legal basis for conviction if the court is satisfied that the confession was true and was voluntarily made. Following these judgments in Yakub Abdul Razak Memon, this Court held that where the original confession was truthful and voluntary, the court can rely upon such confession to convict the accused in spite of a subsequent retraction and its denial in statement u/s 313 of the Code. The law is thus crystallized. A retracted confessional statement is therefore not always worthless.