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Analysis of the Meaning and Power to Record Confessions by the Magistrate | Overview
- Evidentiary Value of Judicial Confession
- Salient Features of Section 164
- Guidelines for Recording Confession under Section 164
- Manner of Recording Confession
- Effect of Non-adherence of Procedure
This article looks into the analysis of the meaning and power to record confessions by the magistrate under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. A confession can only be recorded by a Judicial Magistrate or a Metropolitan Magistrate. It shall endeavour of the article to understand the manner in which the confession should be recorded.
The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 contains four essential provisions that deal with confession before a Judicial or Metropolitan Magistrate. Section 163 mandates that the accused person or the confessing person must not be induced or threatened to confess the offence even if evidence shows that he is the offender.
Section 164 of the Code lays down the procedure to be followed whenever a confession is being made and its evidentiary value in a court of law. Section 281 lays down the manner in which a confessional statement is to be recorded and lastly, Section 463 deals with the effect of procedural irregularity on the admissibility of a confession.
The primary purpose of Section 164 CrPC is to give a technique for examination of a person who confesses his guilt before a Magistrate.
Under Section 25 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, any confessional statement made to an Investigating Officer is forbidden in proof, and subsequently, when the accused person(s) confesses during the Police investigation, the Police as soon as possible get it recorded by a Magistrate under Section 164, Criminal Procedure Code, and it would then be able to be utilized to the degree to which it might be permissible under the Indian Evidence Act as evidence in a court of law and put forth against the accused.
Evidentiary Value of Judicial Confession
Under Section 80 of the Indian Evidence Act, a Court will undoubtedly assume that an averment or confession of a blamed individual, taken as per law and indicating to be marked by any Judge or Magistrate, is real and that the authentication or note with regards to the conditions under which it was taken implying to be made by the individual marking it is valid, and that such articulation or confession was properly taken.
The words “taken in accordance with law” appearing in Section 80 are significant and it signifies that while recording the confession, the sine qua non for recording a confession under Section 164 CrPC must be cautiously pursued.
The evidentiary value of a confession relies on its voluntary character and the exactness with which it is replicated. If the confession is made voluntarily in sound mental condition and if it is accurate, consequently, the provision shall shield the confession from being retracted by the accused.
These shields are vital, as confessions are regularly withdrawn at a later stage and it becomes momentous for the Court to learn whether the alleged confession was really and intentionally made.
The fact that a confession is withdrawn at a later stage before the court does not render the confessional statements inadmissible in court. However, the Court needs to investigate any such confession with the most suspicious and vigilant mind and acknowledge it with the best alert. It is a settled rule of evidence that if the prosecutor desires to rely on a retracted confession and wants the judge to admit it as admissible, the confession must be substantiated by several other pieces of evidence.
In Muthuswami v. State of Madras, the apex court observed that a confession ought not to be acknowledged just in light of the fact that it contains an abundance of detail which couldn’t have been created. The court should look into details such as whether the confession was made voluntarily and if there is any discovery or any lead in the investigation through the confession.
Salient Features of Section 164
Section 164 of the Code is one of the most significant provisions of CrPC. It describes the entire procedure and circumstances in which a confession must be recorded. The section has been amended with the passage of time to cope with the developments. The essential features of this provision are:
- Proclamations or confessions made throughout an investigation can be recorded distinctly by a Magistrate of the First Class or a Magistrate of the Second Class who has been distinctly engaged by the State Government.
- Confessions must be recorded and signed in the way provided under Section 281.
- Before recording any such confession, the Magistrate will disclose to the individual making it that he will voluntarily make a confession and that in the event that he does so it might be utilized in proof against him.
- No Magistrate will record any such confession, except if after scrutinizing the individual making it he has sufficient reasons to accept that it was made intentionally and with complete free will. Inability to address the voluntary nature of a confession has been held to vitiate the confession.
- The Magistrate shall lay out a memorandum mentioning that the confession was made voluntarily without any inducement or threat and that all requirements of the law were duly conformed to. The memorandum in Section 164(3) must be annexed at the foot of the record of the confession.
- It isn’t fundamental that the Magistrate accepting or recording a confession or proclamation ought to be a Magistrate having jurisdiction for the situation. Any Magistrate can record the confession for the sake of justice and later transfer it to the competent Magistrate for further proceedings.
Guidelines for Recording Confession under Section 164
A denounced individual who has made confession before a Magistrate ought to be sent to the judicial custody and not made over to the Police after the confession has been recorded. On the off chance that the Police, in this way, requires the blamed individual for the investigation, a written application ought to be made giving reasons in detail why he is required, and a request begot from the Magistrate for his conveyance to them for the particular purposes named in the application.
If the accused person willing to make a confession, who has been produced before a Magistrate for the reasons for making a confession, has declined to make a confession or has created an impression which is inadmissible from the perspective of the indictment, he ought not to be remanded to Police custody.
When the accused who has made a confession has been kept under the judicial custody, the Magistrate shall record a request for him to be kept separate from different detainees to the extent might be practicable. Section 313 of the Code empowers the Court to examine the accused person at any stage during the trial to allow him to explain all the facts and circumstances in which the offence was committed by him and/or under what circumstances he opted to confess to his crime.
So as to guarantee that a confession under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure is made wilfully, the accompanying safety measures ought to be taken. The judiciary has evolved several rules that need to be followed to allow a confession to be recorded and to indicate the authenticity of such confession.
One such measure requires that the person willing to confess is kept away from the custody of the police officers for some time to allow him to confess deliberately and without any pressure whatsoever.
After the confession is recorded, the Magistrate should not submit the report of the confession to the police officer investigating the case but should directly send it to the competent Magistrate. This is to ensure that the confession is not mishandled or tampered by the corrupt officials. However, there can be situations when the police officers might need the confession for the purpose of investigation and to get a lead in the case.
Moreover, there are situations when the confession of the accused can be used to interrogate the co-accused to induce him to speak the truth. In such circumstances, the Magistrate may allow the officers to take a duplicate of the confession by making a copy of it which can be used by the police while the original shall be sent to the competent court by the Magistrate.
Manner of Recording Confession
Section 281 of the CrPC gives the manner in which the examination of a blamed individual is recorded. The section and its provision apply mutatis mutandis to recording confessions also. The inquiries put to the denounced and the appropriate responses were given by him ought to be unmistakably and precisely recorded, yet the blamed must bind himself to significant responses to the inquiries posed by the Court.
Section 281 of the Code does not keep a Court from declining to record insignificant responses to questions put by it to the blamed under Section 313 of the Code. On the off chance that it seems vital, the Court may even avert the denounced making long insignificant answers.
The assessment of the denounced ought to be recorded in the language in which he is analyzed, and if that isn’t practicable in the language of the Court or in English. In cases in which assessment isn’t recorded by the Magistrate or Judge himself, he should record an update, thereof in the language of the Court or in English on the off chance that he is adequately familiar with the last language.
The assessment must be perused to the charged and made comparable to what he pronounces to be a reality. The Magistrate or Judge should then ensure under his very own hand that the assessment was brought down in his essence and hearing and that the record contains a full and genuine record of what was expressed.
Effect of Non-adherence of Procedure
It was held that “where statements were recorded indicating all necessary precautions prescribed for recording the confessional statement, it was held that confession does not suffer from procedural infirmity”. However, there are circumstances where the procedure or the guidelines under Section 164 is not conformed to.
For such situations, the CrPC provides Section 463 which states that a confession will not become invalid if there is certain procedural irregularity.
The provision is restricted to the failure of the Magistrate to prepare a memorandum of voluntariness of the confession required under Section 164(4). However, if it is shown that the memorandum was intentionally omitted because the confession was obtained by fraud or inducement, it amounts to procedural illegality and no irregularity. In such cases, the provision ceases to apply.
- Ratanlal & Dhirajlal, Commentary on the Code of Criminal Procedure (18th ed. 2006).
- N. Chandrasekharan Pillai, R.V. Kelkar’s Criminal Procedure (6th ed. 2014).
 Muthuswami v. the State of Madras, AIR 1954 SC 4.
 I.L.R. (1973) HP 495.