The Supreme Court has set aside the conviction of a man accused of murder and observed that the Court has to be satisfied with the reliability of the extra-judicial confession keeping in view the circumstances in which it was made and it acquires credibility if it was corroborated by other evidence on record.

The Bench of Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Rajesh Bindal discussed the evidentiary value of extra-judicial confession and observed that “...the prosecution’s case about extra­judicial confession does not inspire confidence at all. Moreover, there are no other circumstances brought on record which could support or corroborate the prosecution case. Therefore, in our considered view, the evidence in form of the extra­judicial confession of the appellant deserves to be discarded. Admittedly, there is no other evidence against the appellant. Therefore, the conviction of the appellant cannot be sustained at all.”

"As far as extra­judicial confession is concerned, the law is well settled. Generally, it is a weak piece of evidence. However, a conviction can be sustained on the basis of extra­judicial confession provided that the confession is proved to be voluntary and truthful. It should be free of any inducement. The evidentiary value of such confession also depends on the person to whom it is made. Going by the natural course of human conduct, normally, a person would confide about a crime committed by him only with such a person in whom he has implicit faith. Normally, a person would not make a confession to someone who is totally a stranger to him." discussed the Bench.

Advocate Gaurav Aggarwal appeared for the appellant and Advocate Abhinav Mukherji appeared for the respondent.

The case of the prosecution was that a secret information was received that two boys, who’s missing complaint had been lodged, were murdered by the appellant along with other accused. The informant along with other people went to appellant’s house, where after some persuasion, the appellant confessed of having killed the boys and concealing their bodies. The bodies were found from the place revealed by the appellant.

Thereafter, a complaint was lodged and FIR was registered and the appellant was convicted for offences punishable under Sections 201, 302 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and was sentenced to undergo life imprisonment. The conviction was confirmed by the Patna High Court. Aggrieved of the decision, the appellant approached the Apex Court.

The Apex Court noted that extra judicial confession was made before PW-7 to PW-9 but none of the witnesses, who supported the prosecution, had stated that the relationship between the appellant and them was such that the appellant had implicit faith and, therefore, he confided with them.

Moreover, the conduct of the witnesses was unusual and unnatural as they instead of informing the police, they accompanied the appellant to the place where the dead bodies were found buried.

“It is pertinent to note that though PW­8 had knowledge about the alleged confession made by the appellant on 06th June 1989, he did not complain to the police. The omission to report to the police is very significant as he was admittedly the uncle of the deceased Bulla. His silence creates more suspicion about the prosecution case.” expressed the Apex Court.

Accordingly, the appellant was acquitted of the offences alleged against him and the appeal was allowed

Cause Title- Pawan Kumar Chourasia v. State of Bihar

Click here to read/download the Judgment