Doctrine of confirmation by subsequent events

In State of Maharashtra vs. Damu, S/o Gopinath Shinde and Ors., JT 2000 (5) SC 575 has held that the Section 27, the Evidence Act was based on the doctrine of confirmation by subsequent events and giving the section actual and expanding meanings, held :

“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 guarantee that the information supplied by the prisoner is true. The information might be confessional or non-inculpatory in nature, but 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 section. The decision of the Privy Council in Pulukuri Kottaya vs. Emperor [AIR 1947 PC 67] 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.”

28. Besides Section 27, the Evidence Act, the courts can draw presumptions under Section 114, Illustrations (a) and Section 106 of the Evidence Act. In Gulab Chand vs. State of M.P., AIR 1995 SC 1598 where ornaments of the deceased were recovered from the possession of the accused immediately after the occurrence, this Court held:

“It is true that simply on the recovery of stolen articles, no inference can be drawn that a person in possession of the stolen articles is guilty of the offence of murder and robbery. But culpability for the aforesaid offences will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case and the nature of evidence adduced. It has been indicated by this Court in Sanwat Khan vs. State of Rajasthan, AIR 1956 SC 54 that no hard and fast rule can be laid down as to what inference should be drawn from certain circumstances. It has also been indicated that where only evidence against the accused is recovery of stolen properties, then although the circumstances may indicate that the theft and murder might have been committed at the same time, it is not safe to draw an inference that the person in possession of the stolen property had committed the murder. A note of caution has been given by this Court by indicating that suspicion should not take the place of proof. It appears that the High Court in passing the impugned judgment has taken note of the said decision of this Court. But as rightly indicated by the High Court, the said decision is not applicable in the facts and circumstances of the present case. The High Court has placed reliance on the other decision of this Court rendered in Tulsiram Kanu vs. State, AIR 1954 SC 1. In the said decision, this court has indicated that the presumption permitted to be drawn under Section 114, Illustration (a) of the Evidence Act has to be drawn under the ‘important time factor’. If the ornaments in possession of the deceased are found in possession of a person soon after the murder, a presumption of guilt may be permitted. But if several months had expired in the interval, the presumption cannot be permitted to be drawn having regard to the circumstances of the case. In the instant case, it has been established that immediately on the next day of the murder, the accused Gulab Chand had sold some of the ornaments belonging to the deceased and within 3-4 days the recovery of the said stolen articles was made from his house at the instance of the accused. Such close proximity of the recovery, which has been indicated by this Court as an ‘important time factor’, should not be lost sight of in deciding the present case. It may be indicated here that in a latter decision of this Court in Earabhadrappa vs. State of Karnataka [(1983) 2 SCC 330], this Court has held that the nature of the presumption and Illustration (a) under Section 114 of the Evidence Act must depend upon the the nature of evidence adduced. No fixed time-limit can be laid down to determine whether possession in the recent or otherwise and each case must be judged on its own facts. The question as to what amounts to recent possession sufficient to justify the presumption of guilt varies according as the stolen article is or is not calculated to pass readily from hand to hand. If the stolen articles were such as were not likely to pass readily from hand to hand, the period of one year that elapsed cannot be said to be too long particularly when the appellant had been absconding during that period. In our view, it has been rightly held by the High Court that the accused was not affluent enough to possess the said ornaments and from the nature of the evidence adduced in this case and from the recovery of the said articles from his possession and his dealing with the ornaments of the deceased immediately after the murder and robbery a reasonable inference of the commission of the said offence can be drawn against the appellant. Excepting an assertion that the ornaments belonged to the family of the accused which claim has been rightly discarded, no plausible explanation for lawful possession of the said ornaments immediately after the murder has been given by the accused. In the facts of this case, it appears to us that murder and robbery have been proved to have been integral parts of the same transaction and therefore the presumption arising under Illustration (a) of Section 114 Evidence Act is that not only the appellant committed the murder of the deceased but also committed robbery of her ornaments.”[AIR 2007 SC 1355 : (2007) 3 SCR 899 : (2007) 9 SCC 315 : JT 2007 (4) SC 380 : (2007) 4 SCALE 314 : (2007) CriLJ SC 1792]