Extra-judicial confession grounds for conviction: SC

Extra-judicial confession grounds for conviction: SC

But only if the court is convinced that it is voluntary

Extra-judicial confession is a "weak piece of evidence", but can be acted upon to convict a person if a court is satisfied that it was voluntary, the Supreme Court has said.

A bench of justices R Banumathi and Indira Banerjee said in cases of extra-judicial confession, courts must ensure that the same inspires confidence and was corroborated by other prosecution evidence.

"If the court is satisfied that the extra-judicial confession is voluntary, it can be acted upon to base the conviction," the apex court said, adding, "extra-judicial confession of accused need not in all cases be corroborated".

The bench noted in its verdict that it was well settled that a conviction could be based on a voluntary confession, but a rule of prudence requires that wherever possible, it should be corroborated by independent evidence.

"Extra-judicial confession is a weak piece of evidence and the court must ensure that the same inspires confidence and is corroborated by other prosecution evidence."

"In order to accept an extra-judicial confession, it must be voluntary and must inspire confidence," the bench said.

The verdict was delivered by the apex court that upheld the conviction of a former bank employee for offences under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Indian Penal Code (IPC) section, which deal with falsification of accounts.

The petitioner had told the court that he was convicted in the case based on his confessional statements submitted to two senior officials of the bank.

He had claimed it cannot be said that his confessional statements were made voluntarily.

However, the Supreme Court said the trial court and the Himachal Pradesh High Court had concurrently held in the case that the confession statements were made voluntarily and it could form the basis for conviction.

The bench reduced his five-year jail term to three years considering the fact that the occurrence was of the year 1992-1994.