The Kerala High Court held that an admission made in statement by accused under Section 313 CrPC cannot be the sole basis for convicting him.

The court noted that the statement under section 313 Cr.P.C cannot be regarded as substantive evidence.

In that context, Bench of Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas observed that, "Even if it is assumed that there is any admission in the statement under section 313 Cr.P.C, the same cannot be relied upon as the sole material to convict the accused. Legally, a statement given under section 313 of Cr.P.C is not given under oath and hence cannot replace evidence. If the evidence of the prosecution leaves out an essential ingredient of the offence, that gap cannot be filled up by the statement under section 313 Cr.P.C. The Court can use the aforesaid statement to the extent it corroborates the case of the prosecution. A conviction per se cannot be based upon the statement under section 313 Cr.P.C, as it cannot be regarded as substantive evidence."

ASG Manu S, CSG Suvin R Menon and Counsel P Vijaykumar appeared for the appellant, while Counsel Sanjeev Kumar MS, among others, appeared for the respondents.

In this case, an Irish citizen was charged with gold smuggling at Cochin International Airport. The prosecution alleged that he arrived from Dubai, carrying ten gold bars worth Rs. 2,45,43,500 in his coat pockets. The accused circled the customs declaration form, but, when questioned, denied carrying dutiable goods. A search revealed the gold bars. The accused confessed to smuggling and admitted to previous offences.

The Trial Court acquitted him, noting the retraction of his statement, the declaration of gold, and the prosecution's failure to produce the gold purchase bill. The prosecution argued the retraction lacked legal evidence and marking of Ext.D1 (court exhibit) was insufficient. The defence highlighted fabrication, contradictions, and the absence of crucial evidence.

The Court observed that the evidence of the prosecution witnesses indicated various inconsistencies and contradictions between them. To that end, it was further observed that, "there is absolutely no evidence regarding any previous smuggling of goods by the accused. The prosecution had not examined any witness or produced any document to show such previous conduct by the accused, and on the other hand, the evidence of DW1 indicates that the accused had been coming down to Kerala for business purposes, which evidence could not be dented by the prosecution during cross examination."

Subsequently, the appeal was dismissed.

Cause Title: Assistant Commissioner of Customs vs Edwin Andrew Minihan & Anr.

Click here to read/download the Judgment