Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and its link with Custodial Violence

By | July 6, 2022
Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872 and its link with Custodial Violence

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The article “Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and its link with Custodial Violence” by Jatin Rana deals with custodial violence and its restrictions under the shadow of Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. It also elaborates on Section 27 to its every possible aspect and how it acts as a colander in every investigating act of the Police in any particular case.

There are also certain judgments which somewhere allow the investigating officers to misuse the given provision. But D.K. Basu Guidelines empowered this section as it laid down certain procedures for taking any person into police custody. Indian Judiciary is acting as a pivoted point that balances both the custodial violence and the confession made by the accused in custody. Before accepting the confession of the accused, Judiciary first examines the probability of custodial violence of which the false confession may be the consequence.

A Brief Introduction: Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872

Section 27 states the type and extent of the information confessed by the accused in custody, which can be used as evidence and can be proved in the court as the direct part or link with the criminal act of the accused.

This section assumes the part of the confession of the accused to be true which led to the discovery of the fact and can be used as evidence and proved in court. If ‘A’ killed ‘B’ and A in custody accepts that he killed B, this confession cannot be considered admissible under the given section because it does not conclude with the discovery of any article related to the criminal activity of the accused. If A confesses about any weapon by which he killed B and also confesses the place where he has hidden the weapon, and consecutively, the weapon is discovered by the investigating officer, the statement can be considered as evidence and can be proved in the court because it lies under the scattering image of the given section.

If the confession of the accused led to the discovery of the fact or article directly linked with the crime, it cannot be questioned as false or irrelevant in court.[1]

Is it possible for the police to misuse this provision?

Yes, it is possible for the police to misuse the given provision in the form of custodial violence, the false discovery of the facts, and other forms. Here, the primary focus is on custodial violence. In the given section, the confession made by the accused under custody is believed to be a voluntary act, but sometimes it is not such a voluntary act. Police sometimes threaten, beat and give false beliefs to the accused and as a consequence of it, the confession is made by the accused which concludes the recovery of the article or fact linked directly to the criminal act of the accused.

If the violent act of the police is proved before the court, the entire confession is considered inadmissible by the court because under the violent act of the police, the accused can reveal false information. But sometimes, the violent act of the police over the accused is not proved before the court and thus, it becomes the ‘black spot’ over the law and specifically over the scope of section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (hereinafter known as IEA).

In the case of Natarajan v. UT of Pondicherry[2], it was held that it is not important for the investigating officer to take the signature of the accused on the document of his confession. This can be misused by the police as they can give false belief to the accused for the confession which may lead to the inadmissibility of the fact discovered on the strength of the confession.

In the case of State v. Abdul Rashid[3], if the accused resiles from his statement or confession which already led to the discovery of the fact or article, the statement cannot be considered inadmissible. This can also be misused by the police because, in custody, the accused can be forced or tortured and under force, the accused may reveal false information and on the same path, the police may discover false articles as held in the case of Babudas v. State of MP [4].

Why are the Police misusing this provision?

Police misuse this provision only to end up the investigation of the case as soon as possible. Criminal cases take a long time to be sorted out and the police are the main organ that investigates the whole background of the criminal acts. Sometimes police don’t even register the FIR on illegal grounds though it is their legal duty to register FIR under section 154 of CrPC, 1973. It is just to get rid of the investigation because if they don’t sort out the lodged FIR, it acts as a hurdle in their promotions.

While making the accused confess, police sometimes force and make false beliefs and sometimes even present the false discovery of the articles before the court just to get rid of the investigation of any particular case.

How the checks on the Police are maintained?

  • Under the given section, the confession made by the accused should be voluntary in nature.[5]
  • Police should not already be aware of the facts discovered as a consequence of the confession made by the accused.[6]
  • When the facts are discovered by the investigating officer, there should be five signatures of the witnesses and should be sealed at the same time of discovery, except the situation was such that the sealing of the article was not possible.[7]

Various checks on Police were imposed in the guidelines of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal[8] which was regarding the death of the people in custody.

  • Policeman, while taking any person in custody, should wear his identification and designation.
  • All the details of taking the person in custody should be recorded in the register.
  • When a person is taken in custody, police should make a memo of arrest in which the time, date, and place should be mentioned with the signature of at least one witness who can either be the family member of the arrested person or the respected person of that locality.
  • An accused should be made aware of his right to inform his family or friend regarding his custody as soon as possible.
  • At the request of the accused, the police must have a medical checkup of the accused to record minor or major injuries on the body, and the medical report should be signed by the accused and the police officer and should be attached to the memo.
  • Copies of the entire document should be presented before the Magistrate.
  • The accused should have a right to meet his advocate and family.

The original objective of Section 27

The objective of this section is to consider the extent of the confession made by the accused as evidence in court. If the confession of the accused leads to the discovery of any article which is directly linked with the offence done by the accused, then the confession is considered evidence and can be proved in court.

Essentials of the same are as follows:-

  • Confession should be made voluntarily by the accused.[9]
  • The accused should be in custody.[10]
  • The fact revealed by the accused should not already be known to the police.[11]
  • The place of hiding the article by the accused should not be a public place or somewhere which is easily observable to other people.[12]
  • Naturality in the recovery of the article is the consequence of the confession made by the accused.[13]

Conclusion

Custodial violence is illegal in India. The balance between custodial violence and the confession of the accused is maintained by the Judiciary. Custodial violence leads to the infringement of the fundamental rights of the accused. Article 21 of the Constitution of India provides the right to life and personal liberty to everyone, and the accused cannot be excluded from the same. If any policeman does any violent act against any accused, the policeman will be punished for infringing the fundamental right of the accused.

Despite the punishment, police try to threaten, beat and make false promises to the accused to make him confess the information. If these inhuman treatments are proved in court, the policeman will be punished, and the confession of the accused will be declared inadmissible. The court only links the confession by the accused and the proof of the fact. Thus, it is clear that the court plays the role of fulcrum between custodial violence and the confession of the accused.


References

[1] State of Maharashtra v. Damu Gopinath Shinde (2000) 6 SCC 269: AIR 2000 SC 1691.

[2] 2003 CR LJ 2372 (Mad).

[3] 2002 CR LJ 3118 J&K.

[4] 2003 CR LJ 2536 (SC).

[5] Shobha Param v. State of MP AIR 1959 MP 125.

[6] Amin v. State of UP AIR 1958 All 293.

[7] Ganesh Lal v. State of Rajasthan 2002 CR LJ 5036, Para 39 (Cal-DB).

[8] AIR 1997 SC 610.

[9] Supra no. 4.

[10] Ramua v. State of UP 1992 CR LJ 3972 (All.).

[11] Supra no. 5.

[12] Sujit Gulab Sohatre v. State 1997 CR LJ 454 (Bom.).

[13] Supra no. 3.


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Author: Jatin Rana

Law College Dehradun

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