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Admission is a genus and Confession is a

species: A detailed Analysis


(Project report)

SUBMITTED TO:

Mr. Vishal Dixit


(Faculty: Law of Evidence)

SUBMITTED BY:

Ekta Chandrakar
Roll no. 62, Section - C

Sem - VII, B.A. LL.B (HONS.)

SUBMITTED ON:

August 17, 2018

HIDAYATULLAH NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY

Uparwara Post, Abhanpur, New Raipur – 493661 (C.G.)


Acknowledgements

I feel highly elated to work on the project “Admission is a genus and Confession is a species: A
detailed Analysis.” The practical realization of the project has obligated the assistance of many
persons. Firstly I express my deepest gratitude towards Mr. Vishal Dixit, Faculty – Evidence
law, to provide me with the opportunity to work on this project. His able guidance and
supervision were of extreme help in understanding and carrying out the nuances of this project.
I would also like to thank the University and the Vice Chancellor for providing extensive
database resources in the library and for the internet facilities provided by the University.

Some printing errors might have crept in which are deeply regretted. I would be grateful to
receive comments and suggestions to further improve this project.

Ekta Chandrakar

Roll No. 62

Section C, Semester VII


Contents

1. Acknowledgements ii

2. Introduction 1

3. Research Methodology 3

3.1 Objectives

3.2 Scope of the Study

3.3 Methodology

4. Admission is a Genus 4

5. Confession is a Species 7

6. Difference between Admission and Confession 11

7. Conclusion 14

8. Bibliography 16
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INTRODUCTION

All Confessions are admissions but every admission may not be a confession. To be a
confession, admission should contain an acknowledgement of guilt. Therefore all confession are
admissions, but every admission may not be a confession.

The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 section 17-30 deal with the provisions related to admission and
confessions and their relevancy.
Section 17 defines admission. According to the section an admission is a statement made by a
person. The statement to be called an admission must suggest or in simple words throw some
light on the fact in issue or a relevant fact. Such a statement can either be oral or written or may
be contained in an electronic form. A fact in issue is such a fact with is either asserted or denied
in any suit or a proceeding. In basic words we can say a fact in issue is the main point of
contention between two parties in a suit or proceeding.

Thus an admission is any statement made by a person in relation to either the fact in issue or a
relevant fact in a particular case but not all such statements are known as admission or
confessions. A statement has to be made under particular circumstances then only it will be a
valid admission or may be admissible under the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 else though valid it
will not be admissible in the court of law. A confession is a statement of responsibility for
committing an act of crime. A confession is sufficient for proving guilt of the suspect.
According to Black’s Law Dictionary, the distinction between admissions in criminal cases and
confessions by the accused is the distinction in effect between admissions of fact from which the
guilt of the accused may be inferred by the jury and the express admission of guilt itself. In
some cases, silence may amount to an admission, especially when both parties are speaking or
are simply on the same and even terms i.e. no one occupies a superior position in relation to the
other. A person is entitled to refrain from answering a question put to him for the purpose of
discovering whether he has committed a criminal offence. There is no obligation to comment
when informed that someone else has accused him of an offence. If it is reasonable to expect
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someone to make some response to an allegation made against him, his subsequent silence can
now be used as evidence against him. In some cases, a denial, ipso facto, may not necessarily
render the statement made in his presence inadmissible as he may deny the statement in such a
manner and under such circumstances as may lead a judge or jury to disbelieve him and
constitute evidence from which an acknowledgment may be inferred by them. In English Law,
the term admission is usually applied to civil proceedings and to those matters of fact, in criminal
cases, which do not involve criminal intent, the term confession being generally restricted to
acknowledgments of guilt. The Nigerian Evidence Act proceeds upon the same principle.
Confessions are one species of admissions consisting of a direct acknowledgment of guilt by the
accused in a criminal case.

Only voluntary and direct acknowledgment of guilt is a confession but when a confession falls
short of direct admission of guilt it may nevertheless be used as evidence against the person who
made it or his authorised agent as an admission under Section 21 of the Indian Evidence
(Amendment) Act, 2002 (4 of 2003).1 An oral confession by an accused is an admission by an
accused and is a relevant fact and may be proved at his trial. Proof of such confession may be by
the evidence of the person before whom it was made.

1
C.B.I v V.C Shukla, A 1998 SC 1406; 1998 Cri LJ 1905
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OBJECTIVES

The primary objective of this research project purports to analysis and evaluation of the
distinction between Admissions and Confessions in the Indian Legal Regime and thus, the
primary research questions shall be

 To ascertain and analyze briefly the meaning of Admission and Confession as put forward by
the statutes and case laws in the Indian legal regime.
 To identify and ascertain the points of differences between confessions and admissions as put
forward by the statutes and case laws in the Indian legal regime.

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

The research is conducted with the help of statutory interpretation of the laws governing
admissions and confessions in The Indian Evidence Act 1872. The present research is doctrinal
and non-empirical. The matter of research is collected from the secondary sources which include
the legal documents, the statutes, the judicial decisions, the articles, books, journals, etc. as
collected from the Library and authentic websites.

SCOPE
The concepts of Admissions and Confessions as a statement are vast and can span into the
lengths of books. Thus, the present research aims to limit the scope of dwelling into the depth of
the concepts of Admissions and Confessions and concentrate efforts upon the distinction
between the two.
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ADMISSION IS A GENUS
Admission is defined under Section 17 of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 as a statement having
an inference to any relevant fact or fact in issue by a list of persons given under Section 18
(Parties to suit, Party’s representatives, Person jointly interested in the subject matter, Referee
etc.). As to the admissibility of an Admission in the court of law as evidence, it shall be regarded
as admissible if it conforms with the Sections 17 to 23 of The Indian Evidence Act.

Admissions are statements, which admit or concede facts asserted by the opposite party and
thereby do away with the need to produce evidence in support of those facts. Thus, they suggest
an inference as to facts in issue or relevant facts.

The definition attempted by the Privy Council has found favor with the Supreme Court in Pakala
Narayan Swami v. Emperor2 over two scores. Firstly, that the definition is that it must either
admit the guilt in terms or admit substantially all the facts which constitute the offence, and
secondly, that a mixed up statement which, even though contains some confessional statement,
will still lead to acquittal, is no confession.

Admissions are broadly classified into two categories,

(a) judicial admissions, and

(b) extra-judicial admissions.

Judicial admissions are formal admissions made by a party to the proceeding in the case. Extra-
judicial admissions are informal admissions not appearing on the record of the case. Judicial
admissions, being made in the case, are fully binding on the party who makes them. They
constitute a waiver of proof. They can be made the foundation of the rights of the parties.

2
(1939) 41 BOMLR 428
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Extra-judicial admissions are also binding on the party against whom they are set up. Unlike
judicial admissions, they are binding only partially and not fully, except in cases where they
operate as or have the effect of estoppel, in which case, they are fully binding, and may
constitute the foundation of the rights of the parties. 3

In a case decided by the Supreme Court, the Plaintiff sought to rely on an admission made by the
Defendant in the plaint in an earlier suit filed by the Defendant. It was held that Section 17 of the
Evidence Act makes no distinction between an admission made by a party in his pleading and
other admissions. Therefore, an admission made by a person in a plaint signed and verified by
him may be used as evidence against him in other suits. Of course, the admission cannot be
regarded as conclusive, and it is open to the party concerned to show that the statement is not
true.4

It is generally immaterial to whom an admission is made. An admission made to a stranger is


also relevant. Admissions are as much binding on the Government as on ordinary persons. That
is the reason why advocates tell their clients not to talk to anyone about their case or about the
events leading up to it, so as to prevent their clients from making admissions.

Coming to the admissibility of Admissions in the Evidence Law, an admission is regarded to be


admitted as relevant evidence due to the following several reasons:

1. Admissions as waiver of Proof

This is confined only to formal admissions made at the time of the trial or as part of pleadings or
in reference to the litigation. Sec 58 of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 qualifies the above
mentioned principle by saying in the proviso that the Court may, in its discretion, require the
facts admitted to be proved otherwise than by such admission. Thus the Court may reject an

3
Ajodhya Prasad vs Bhawani Shanker AIR 1957 All 1
4
Basant Singh v. Janki Singh AIR 1976 SC 341
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admission either wholly or in part or may require further proof. Waiver of proof therefore,
cannot be an exclusive reason for the relevancy of an admission.

2. Admissions as statement against interest

The Second suggested reason is that an admission, being a statement against the interest of the
maker, should be supposed to be true, for it is highly improbable that a person will voluntarily
make a false statement against his own interest. But this also does not squarely account for the
relevancy of admissions. For one thing Section 17 of The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 does not
require that an admission should be a statement suggesting some inference as to a fact in issue or
relevant to the issue, even if the inference is in favor of the person making such admission. The
act does not seem to require that an admission should be self-harming statement.

3. Admissions as Evidence of Contradictory Statements

Still another reason that partly accounts for the relevancy of an admission is that there is a
contradiction between the party’s statement and his case. This kind of contradiction discredits his
case. If, for example, A sues B upon a loan. His account books show that the loan was given to
C. The statement in his accounts is an admission on his part as it contradicts his case against B.
But this is only partly true, for the principle is that a party can prove all his opponent’s
statements about the facts of the case and it is not necessary that they should be inconsistent with
his case.

4. Admissions as Evidence of Truth

The last and most plausible and perhaps widely accepted reason that accounts for relevancy of
admissions is that whatever statements a party makes about the facts of the case, whether they be
for or against his interest, should be relevant as representing or reflecting the truth as against
him.
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CONFESSION IS A SPECIES

In the case of Sahoo vs. State of U.P. 5the Supreme Court has observed "It is said that one
cannot confess to himself; he can only confess to another. This raises an interesting point, which
falls to be decided on a consideration of the relevant provisions of the Evidence Act. Section 24
to 30 of the Evidence Act deal with the admissibility of confession by accused persons in
criminal cases. But the expression "confession" is not defined.

A confession is a direct acknowledgment of guilt, on the part of the accused, and by the very
force of the definition excluded an admission which of itself as applied in Criminal Law, is
statement by the accused direct or implied, of facts pertinent to the issue, and tending in
connection with a proof of other facts to prove his guilt but of itself is insufficient to authorize a
conviction. In other words, a confession is an admission made at any time by a person charged
with a crime stating or suggesting the inference that he committed that crime.

The definition of admission as given in Section 17 of The Indian Evidence Act also becomes
applicable to confession also. Section 17 defines admission as “a statement oral or documentary,
which suggests any inference to any fact in issue or relevant fact.”6

In Pakala Narayan Swami v Emperor7Lord Atkins observed that a confession must either admit
in terms, the offence or at any rate substantially, all the facts that constitute the offence. An
admission of a gravely incriminating fact, even a conclusively incriminating fact is not in itself a
confession. After that, In the landmark case of Palvinder Kaur v State of Punjab8, the Supreme
Court upheld the Privy Council decision of Pakala Narayan Swami case.

5
AIR 1966 SC 40
6
Lal, B “Law of Evidence” (Central Law Agency, Edition 20th, Allahabad)
7
(1939) 41 BOMLR 428
8
AIR 1952 SC 354
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However in the case Nishi Kant Jha v State of Bihar9the Supreme Court pointed out that there
was nothing wrong or relying on a part of the confessional statement and rejecting the rest, and
for this purpose, the Court drew support from English authorities. When there is enough
evidence to reject the exculpatory part of the accused’s statements, the Court may rely on the
inculpatory part. A confession is a statement made by a person charged with a crime suggesting
an inference as to any facts in issue or as to relevant facts. The inference that the statement
should suggest should be that he is guilty of the crime.

Coming on to the point of relevancy and admissibility of Confessions, the law also lays down
various conditions in which if a confession is made by an accused then such a confession is
irrelevant. Such conditions have been laid down under section 24 of the Indian Evidence Act and
are basically confessions made under threat, inducement or promise. The following conditions
are necessary to attract the provisions of this section: 10

1. A confession should be free and voluntary. If it flows from fear or hope, it is inadmissible. In
deciding whether a particular confession is because of threat, inducement, or promise, the
question has to be considered from the point of view of the accused as to how the
inducement, threat or promise would operate in his mind. For example, where the magistrate
told the accused, “tell me where the things are and I will be favorable to you”, it was held to
be inadmissible.

2. A person in authority is not merely a police officer or a magistrate but every such person who
can reasonably hold a sway over the investigation or trial. Thus, government officials such as
a senior military officer, police constable, warden, clerk of the court, all have been held to be
a person in authority. Even private persons such as the wife of the employer were also held to
be a person in authority.

9
1969 AIR 422
10
Hanumant (2012) “Confession” Retrieved on 13th August 2016, from http://hanumant.com/LOE-Unit4-
Confession.html
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3. The requirement that the confession has to relate to the charge in question is specifically
stated in the concerned section, which says that the inducement must have reference to the
charge against the accused person. Thus, in the case of Empress vs Mohan Lal11, the
confession which was given by a person and he was threatened to be excommunicated from
his caste for life, was held to be relevant because the threat did not have anything to do with
the charge.
4. The inducement should be about some tangible benefit. For example, a reference to spiritual
benefit such as, taking an accused to a temple to confess does not fall in this category but a
promise to reduce the sentence would fall under it.

It is necessary that all the conditions must exist cumulatively. Further, this section merely
requires that if it appears to the court, that, the confession was improperly obtained, it becomes
inadmissible i.e. if the circumstances create a probability in the mind of the court that the
confession is improperly obtained, it may hold it inadmissible.

Also, it is presumed in the society that the police hold a position of great influence over the
actions of the accused and so there is a high probability that confessions obtained by the police
are tainted with threat, or inducement. Further, it is important to prevent the practice of
oppression or torture by the police to extract the confession. Sections 25 and 26 of The Indian
Evidence Act 1872 entail this principle of giving this remedy to the accused.

Section 27 provides for a confession as to when is it relevant and also provides for an exception
when a confession made to the police is admissible. This is when a confession leads to the
discovery of a fact connected with the crime. The discovery assures that the confession is true
and reliable even if it was extorted. In order to ensure the genuineness of recoveries, it has
become a practice to recover such evidence in the presence of witnesses. There have been some
constitutionality issues regarded this provision. The Indian Evidence Act was written before the

11
(1899) ILR 21 All 86
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Constitution of India and Article 20 (3) of the constitution says that no person shall be compelled
to be a witness against himself. This article seemingly made Section 27 of The Indian Evidence
Act unconstitutional. Supreme Court considered this issue in the case of Nisa Stree vs. State of
Orissa12, and held that it is not violative of Article 20(3). The court established that a confession
may or may not lead to the discovery of an incriminating fact. If the discovered fact is non
incriminatory, there is no issue and if it is self-incriminatory, it is admissible if the information is
given by the accused without any threat.

Section 28 of The Act lays down that if the confession is obtained after the impression caused by
threat, inducement, or promise is removed in the opinion of the court, then the confession is
admissible.

Lastly, Section 29 of this Act says that a relevant confession does not become irrelevant merely
because it was made under a promise of secrecy or in consequences of a deception practiced on
the accused person for the purpose of obtaining it or while the accused was drunk or while
answering the questions he need not have answered or when the accused was not warned that he
was not bound to make such confession and that evidence of it might be given against him.

The basis of this section is that any breach of confidence or of good faith or practice of any
artifice does not invalidate a confession. However, a confession obtained by mere trickery does
not carry much weight. For example, in one case, an accused was told that somebody saw him
doing the crime and because of this the accused made a confession. The court held the
confession as inadmissible. The five circumstances mentioned in the section are not exhaustive.

12
AIR 1954 SC 279
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DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ADMISSION AND CONFESSION

 An admission represents a statement that tends toward proving guilt. On the other hand, a
confession is a fully corroborated statement during which the suspect accepts personal
responsibility for committing a crime. This distinction is important for legal and procedural
reasons. For example, a theft suspect who agrees to reimburse the victim for the Rs. 50 stolen
has offered an admission, not a confession. While a willingness to pay back an amount of
money stolen is very typical of the guilty suspect, we have had at least one occurrence of a
verified innocent person who agreed to do this also. The principle to keep in mind is that an
admission does not accept personal responsibility for committing the crime. 13

In another example, a suspect who was questioned concerned the death of his infant child
acknowledged picking the child up in a manner that was somewhat consistent with the
probable cause of death. However, the father maintained that when he put the child back
down the child was alive and not in distress. Based primarily on this admission, the father
was charged with homicide. During the trial, when the prosecutor was unable to present any
further evidence of the father’s guilt, a motion was granted to dismiss the charge.

 The distinction between a confession and an admission is not based upon a technical
refinement but instead; it is based upon the substantive differences of the character of the
evidence deduced from each. In other words, a confession is a direct acknowledgement of
guilt, on the part of the accused, and by the very definition of it, excludes an admission which
of itself is a statement, oral or documentary that enables the court to gather an inference as to
any relevant fact or fact in issue. It will be scrupulous to say that every confession, by
definition, is an admission but every admission doesn’t necessarily amount to a confession.

13
Police Link (2011) “Distinguishing between Confession and Admission” Retrieved on 13th August
from http://policelink.com/articles/distinguishing-between-admissions-and-confessions
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 In other words, a confession is an admission provided that a person charged with a crime,
standing or suggesting the inference that he committed the crime, makes it at any time. 14

 According to the established theories and law, all admissions are not confessions but all
confessions are admissions. Though only voluntary and direct acknowledgment of guilt is a
confession, but when a confession falls short of actual admission of guilt, and is not taken
down according to law, it may be used as evidence against the person who made it, as an
admission under Section 21.15

 The Evidence Act draws a distinction between admissions and confessions 16 and the nature
of the distinction was considered many times. In R v. Santya Bandhu17, the distinction
between an admission and confession has been thus explained, as the word confession as
used in the Act, must not be construed as including a mere inculpatory admission, which falls
short of being an admission of guilt. It is one thing to make statements giving rise to an
inference of guilt and another thing to confess a crime. 18 The contrary view held in R v.
Bhairab19, was based on Stephen’s definition of confession but, confession as now explained
in Pakala Narayan vs. Emperor20endorses the opinion of the cases of R v. Jagrup and R v.
Santya Bandhu.

 Admission in a civil suit fairly explained away, is like a retracted confession.21 When, in an
English landmark case,22 an accused was asked by a magistrate whether he had stolen a mare
and he was arrested while riding it and he replied “yes,” it was a composite question and the

14
Lal, B “Law of Evidence” (Central Law Agency, Edition 20th, Allahabad)
15
R v. Nilmadhab, 15 C 595 FB
16
First pointed out in R v. Macdonald, 10 BLR
17
11 Bom LR 633
18
R v. Jagrup, 1 A 646
19
2 CWN 702, 707
20
(1939) 41 BOMLR 428
21
R v. Bukhtawar, A 1927 L 540
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answer did not amount to a confession. Confession is an admission by an accused person in a


criminal case. The making of a counterfeit coin is not a statement and hence Sections 24-26
do not bar evidence of persons who say that the accused made counterfeit coins in their
presence.

22
Harni vs. R, A 1927 L 650
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CONCLUSION

The ascertainment of the distinction between admissions and confessions shall be of importance
because; it shall give the explanation as to a statement’s admissibility in a court of law as per
Indian Evidence Act, 1872. If the statement is found to be an admission, it shall be admissible
under Section 21 and if it amounts to a confession, it shall be admissible under Section 24 to 30.
If it is found to be holding improper inducement, threat or promise, it would be hit by the
restriction in Section 24 and shall not be admissible as a confession anymore, but, it may still be
admissible under Section 21 as an admission provided it suggests an inference as to a fact in
issue or a relevant fact. A restriction on admissibility of an admission is laid down, that it shall
not be made to a police officer during an ongoing investigation.

Providing the solution to the primary research question pertaining to the points of distinctions
between Confessions and Admissions, a confession is a statement made by an accused person
admitting that he has either committed an offence or at any rate, substantially all the facts that
constitute the offence. Confessions find place in criminal proceedings only. An admission is a
general and a much larger term, which suggests an inference as to any fact in issue or any
relevant fact. Admissions are generally used in civil proceedings, yet they may also be used in
criminal proceedings. Every confession is an admission but every admission in a criminal case is
not a confession. A statement may be irrelevant as a confession, but it may be relevant as an
admission. A statement not admissible as a confession may yet, for other purposes, be admissible
as an admission as against the person who made it.

In other words, a confession is a statement made by an accused person who is sought to be


proved against him in criminal proceeding establishes the commission of offence by him.
Whereas, an admission usually relates to civil transaction and comprises all statements
amounting to admission defined under Section 17 and made by person mentioned under Sections
18, 19 and 20. Confessions, if deliberately and voluntarily made, may be accepted as conclusive
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of the matters confessed whereas; admissions are never conclusive to the matters admitted,
though it may act as an estoppel.

Confessions always go against the person making it whereas; admissions may be used on behalf
of the person making it under the exceptions provided in Section 21 of Evidence Act.
Confessions made by one or two or more accused jointly tried for the same offence can be taken
into consideration against the co-accused also as mentioned in Section 30. On the other hand,
admission by one of several defendants in a suit is no evidence against others. Confession is
statement written or oral which is a direct admission of suit and Admission is a statement, oral or
written, which gives inference about the liability of person making admission.
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REFERENCES

BOOKS
1. Rattan Lal Dhirajlal, The Law of Evidence 20th Edd (2003) Wadhwa and Nagpur Co. Ltd
(Reprinted).Administrative office DD-13, Kalkaji Extn, opp Nehru Place New Delhi.
2. Avtar Singh, Principles of the law of Evidence 15th edd. (2005) Central Law
Publications.

MAGAZINES
1. Key Judgment Vol I No 5 Issue (May 2006) LAWZ D-56 sector 55 Noida-201301
2. Law teller
3. Frontline, 29th August 2003, 1st Ed. Deep and Deep Publication Put. Ltd

INTERNET
http://www.Iegalseruiceindia.com/articles/host.htm.
www.Legalserviceindia.com/article/host.htm
www.timesofindia.com
www.hindustantimes.com.
www.thehindu.com
Why do Prosecution Witnesses Fall Flat So Often?‘ Crimes, available at
http//www.lawyerscollective.org/lemag/free_downloads/magazine2001/August2001/crime.htm
ttp//www.lawyerscollective.org/lemag/free_downloads/magazine2001/August2001/crime.htm

REPORTS
Law Commission of India, Recommendations for Amending Various Enactments, Both Civil
and Criminal, 178th Report , Sixteenth Law Commission under the chairman ship of Mr. Justice
B. P. Jeevan Reddy 2000-2001& Mr. Justice M. Jagannadha Rao 2002-2003 in 2001