The Hon’ble Supreme court bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Bela M Trivedi – in the case of Chandrapal v. State of Chhattisgarh held that the extrajudicial confession allegedly made by the co-accused loses its relevance in the lack of any substantial evidence against the accused.
Extrajudicial confessions are a poor piece of evidence, according to the Supreme Court, and can only be considered as corroborative evidence when provided by a co-accused.
In the absence of any substantial evidence against the accused, the extrajudicial confession allegedly made by the co-accused will be of no consequence, according to a Division Bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Bela M Trivedi.
“The extra-judicial confession made by the co-accused could be admitted in evidence only as a corroborative piece of evidence. In absence of any substantive evidence against the accused, the extra judicial confession allegedly made by the co-accused loses its significance and there cannot be any conviction based on such extra judicial confession of the co-accused,” The Court stated
The four accused in this case, Bhagirathi, Chandrapal, Mangal Singh, and Videshi, were convicted by the Sessions Court for offences under Sections 302 (murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender) read with Section 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), as well as the Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989.
The Chhattisgarh High Court partially set aside Bhagirathi Kumhar, Mangal Singh, and Videshi’s convictions under Section 302 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, but upheld their convictions under Section 201 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code. Chandrapal’s appeal, on the other hand, was dismissed by the Court.
Chandrapal (appellant) was enraged and filed this appeal with the Supreme Court.
The appellant claimed before the Supreme Court that there were serious inconsistencies in the testimony of prosecution witnesses about the accused Videshi’s alleged extrajudicial confession.
It was argued that the conviction could not be founded on the co-extrajudicial accused’s confession because this is a very weak type of evidence.
The State, on the other hand, although admitting that an extrajudicial confession is a poor piece of evidence, argued that the prosecution had presented corroborative evidence that indisputably proved the full chain of events leading to the appellant’s guilt.
When more than one person is being tried jointly for the same offence under Section 30 of the Indian Evidence Act, and a confession made by one of those persons affecting himself and other persons is proven, the court may consider such confession as against such other person as well as against the person who makes such confession, according to the Supreme Court.
The Bench, on the other hand, made it clear that an extrajudicial confession is weak evidence, and that unless it inspires trust or is fully confirmed by other clinching evidence, a conviction for murder should not be based exclusively on an extrajudicial confession.
“Extra-judicial confession is a weak evidence by itself and it has to be examined by the court with greater care and caution. It should be truthful and should inspire confidence. An extra-judicial confession attains greater credibility and evidentiary value if it is supported by chain of cogent circumstances and is further corroborated by other prosecution evidence,” The court said
As a result, the Court concluded that if the co-accused Videshi’s weak piece of evidence was not duly proved or found trustworthy for convicting the other co-accused of murdering the deceased, the High Court could not have used the same evidence against the present appellant for the purpose of convicting him.
As a result, the Court granted the appellant’s appeal and overturned the High Court’s judgement of conviction.