The Supreme Court said conviction for the offence of murder should not be made only on the basis of extra judicial confession as it is a weak kind of evidence. The extra judicial confession cannot be relied upon unless it inspires confidence or is fully corroborated by some other evidence of clinching nature, it added.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Bela M Trivedi explained the legal position while overturning conviction of a man from Chhattisgarh in a case related to killings of a lovelorn inter-caste couple.
The top court allowed an appeal filed by Chanderpal, and set him free, saying the High Court had committed gross error in convicting him for the alleged charge of murder relying upon a very weak kind of evidence of extra judicial confession allegedly made by the co-accused Videshi.
It said "the extra judicial confession is a weak evidence by itself and has to be examined 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."
In this instance, the top court pointed out Videshi had allegedly made self-inculpatory extra judicial confessions before prosecution witness Bhola Singh, and others, stating that the other three accused -- Bhagirathi, Chandrapal and Mangal Singh murdered a Dalit girl, Brinda and upper caste (Gaur) man, Kanhaiya in 1994 and he was asked to assist them in disposing the dead bodies and concealing the evidence.
The High Court, considering the inconsistency between the said two extra judicial confessions by Videshi, did not find it safe to convict the other accused. However, surprisingly, it considered the said extra judicial confession by Videshi as an incriminating circumstance against the appellant.
"If such weak evidence was not duly proved or found trustworthy for holding the other co-accused guilty of committing murder of Brinda and Kanhaiya, the High Court could not have used it against the present appellant for the purpose of holding him guilty," the bench added.
Further, rejecting the theory of "last seen", the bench said when the case of the prosecution rested on circumstantial evidence, it was imperative for it to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the deaths of the deceased were homicidal and not suicidal, more particularly when the line of defence of the accused was that Brinda and Kanhaiya had committed suicide. The court also mentioned Dr R K Singh, who carried out their post-mortems and had opined that the nature of their deaths was suicidal.