Question: Explain Retracted confession. Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [Explain Retracted confession.] Answer A retracted confession is a statement made by an accused person before the trial begins, by which he admits to have committed the offence, but which he repudiates at the trial. What leads to Retracted Confession: After the commission… Read More »

Question: Explain Retracted confession. Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [Explain Retracted confession.] Answer A retracted confession is a statement made by an accused person before the trial begins, by which he admits to have committed the offence, but which he repudiates at the trial. What leads to Retracted Confession: After the commission of a serious offence, some police officer makes an investigation into the matter, examines witnesses and the accused. If in...

Question: Explain Retracted confession.

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [Explain Retracted confession.]

Answer

A retracted confession is a statement made by an accused person before the trial begins, by which he admits to have committed the offence, but which he repudiates at the trial.

What leads to Retracted Confession: After the commission of a serious offence, some police officer makes an investigation into the matter, examines witnesses and the accused. If in his opinion the accused is proved to have committed the offence, he submits a report (charge-sheet) to a magistrate having jurisdiction in the matter.

The court takes evidence and examines the accused. If during the investigation, the accused on being examined by the police officer is willing to admit the guilt, the police officer sends the accused to some magistrate for recording his statement. The magistrate after being satisfied that the accused is making the statement voluntarily takes his statement.

If the accused admits in his statement to have committed the offence, this recorded statement by the Magistrate may be proved at the trial. At the commencement of the trial, if the accused on being asked as to whether he committed the crime, he may say that he did not commit the crime.

The question may again be put to him as to whether he made the statement before a Magistrate during the investigation confessing the guilt. He may deny having made the statement at all or he may say that he made that statement due to undue influence of the police. In this case, the confession made by the accused to the Magistrate before the trial begins is called retracted confession.

Evidentiary value of the retracted confession: It is unsafe to base the conviction on a retracted confession unless it is corroborated by trustworthy evidence. There is no definite law that a retracted confession cannot be the basis of the conviction but it has been laid down as a rule of practice and prudence, not to rely on retracted confessions, unless corroborated.

Courts have convicted persons on retracted confessions when they have been of the opinion that the confession when it was made was voluntary or consistent and true but the real rule of law about the retracted confession is “where the retracted confession is the sole evidence it can be of little value especially when made during the competition for a pardon which sometimes occurs where a number of persons are suspected of an offence.”

It very often happens that a number of persons are accused of murder or dacoity or of any other offence. The person in charge of the investigation falling on direct and independent evidence chooses some of the accused to admit the guilt on the promise of making him a witness in the case.

Instances are not rare when a young man is made to admit some guilt due to pressure or fear. It is really very strange for an accused to confess before the investigating authority that he has committed a murder. That statement, if made without any pressure, fear or hope must be either due to remorse or godly fear or it is so because the accused is truthful as Harish Chandra and Yudhisthir.

If that is so, and if the statement was made because the witness was remorseful or because he made the confession due to fear of God or because he was truthful, there is no reason as to why he resiles from that statement when he is put to trial. Due to this suspicion, a retracted confession can always be suspected to have been extracted by pressure, undue influence, inducement or threat by some person in authority.

It cannot in many cases be said to be voluntary and so as laid down in passage: “I always suspect these confessions which are supposed to be the off-spring of penitence and remorse and which are nevertheless repudiated by the prisoners at the trial.

It is remarkable that it is a very rare occurrence for evidence of confession to be given when the proof of the prisoner’s guilt is otherwise clear and satisfactory, but when it is not clear and satisfactory the prisoner is not infrequently alleged to have been seized with a desire born of penitence and remorse to supplement it with confession, a desire which vanishes as soon as he appears in a court of justice” from the judgement of Queen’s Bench Division, it is always wise not to convict an accused on the sole testimony of the retracted confession and in 99.9 recurring cases retracted confession cannot form the basis of conviction.

A judge can convict an accused on the sole testimony of retracted confession only when he is fully satisfied with the truthfulness of the statement and entertains no doubt about its being voluntary. The general rule as mentioned above and supported by the opinions of the High Courts in India and also the Privy Council had been that it is always unsafe to base the conviction on the sole testimony of retracted confession.

Apart from the general rule of prudence where the circumstances of a case cast suspicion on the genuineness of confession, corroboration is needed.

In State of Tamil Nadu v. Kutty alias Laxmi Narasimhan, [AIR 2001 SC 2778] the Supreme Court said that it is not the law that once the confession was retracted the Court should presume that confession is tainted. Non retracted confession is a rarity in criminal cases.

To retract from confession is the right of the confessor and all the accused against whom the confessions were proved by the prosecution have invariably adopted that right. It would be injudicious to jettison a judicial confession on the mere premise that its maker has retracted from it.

The court has the duty to evaluate the confession by looking at all the aspects. The twin test is to ascertain whether the confession is voluntary and that once the test is found positive, the next endeavour is to see whether there is any other reason which stands in the way of acting on it. Even for that retraction is not ground to throw confession over-board.

The settled view of the Supreme Court of India as given in State of Maharashtra v. P.K. Pathak, AIR 1980 SC 1224 is that as a matter of prudence and caution, which has sanctified itself into a rule of law, a retracted confession cannot be made solely the basis of conviction unless the same is corroborated, but it does not necessarily mean that each and every circumstance mentioned in the confession regarding the complicity of the accused must be separately and independently corroborated, nor is it essential that the corroboration must come from the circumstances discovered after the confession was made.


Important Mains Questions Series for Judiciary, APO & University Exams

  1. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-I
  2. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-II
  3. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-III
  4. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-IV
  5. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-V
  6. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VI
  7. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VII
  8. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VIII
  9. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-IX
  10. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-X
Updated On 2021-11-13T11:36:50+05:30
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