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Only That Part Of Statement Of Accused Which Leads To Section 27 Recovery Should Be Recorded : Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
20 April 2022 8:14 AM GMT
Only That Part Of Statement Of Accused Which Leads To Section 27 Recovery Should Be Recorded : Supreme Court
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Supreme Court categorically said that practice of recoridng of entire statement of accused should be stopped

The Supreme Court , in a judgment delivered on Tuesday, criticized the practice of prosecuting agency recording the entire statement of the accused rather than only that part of the statement which leads to the discovery of facts as per Section 27 of the Evidence Act."Such kind of statements may have a direct tendency to influence and prejudice the mind of the Court. This practice...

The Supreme Court , in a judgment delivered on Tuesday, criticized the practice of prosecuting agency recording the entire statement of the accused rather than only that part of the statement which leads to the discovery of facts as per Section 27 of the Evidence Act.

"Such kind of statements may have a direct tendency to influence and prejudice the mind of the Court. This practice must immediately be stopped.", the bench comprising Justices U U Lalit and P S Narasimha observed.

In this case, the accused - appellants were convicted under Section 396 of the Indian Penal Code(offence of dacoity) and sentenced to death penalty by the Trial Court. The Karnataka High Court did not affirm the death sentence, but sentenced them to suffer life imprisonment, finding them guilty under Section 394 IPC.

In appeal, the Apex court bench noticed that the Trial Court judgment has extracted voluntary statements made by the accused. The court, referring to Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act, observed that only that part of the statement which leads to the discovery of certain facts alone could be marked in evidence and not the entirely of the statement.

"We must observe that we have repeatedly found a tendency on part of the Prosecuting Agency in getting the entire statement recorded rather than only that part of the statement which leads to the discovery of facts. In the process, a confession of an accused which is otherwise hit by the principles of Evidence Act finds its place on record. Such kind of statements may have a direct tendency to influence and prejudice the mind of the Court. This practice must immediately be stopped. In the present case, the Trial Court not only extracted the entire statements but also relied upon them", the court observed.

The court also noticed that the voluntary statements were recorded on a DVD and was played in Court and the same formed the basis of the judgment of the Trial Court.

"Such a statement is again in the nature of a confession to a Police Officer and is completely hit by the principles of Evidence Act. If at all the accused were desirous of making confessions, the Investigating Machinery could have facilitated recording of confession by producing them before a Magistrate for appropriate action in terms of Section 164 of the Code. Any departure from that course is not acceptable and cannot be recognized and taken on record as evidence. The Trial Court erred in exhibiting those DVD statement Exh.P-25 to 28. As a matter of fact, it went further in relying upon them while concluding the matter on the issue of conviction"

Taking note of the evidence on record, the bench concluded that the Prosecution has not been able to discharge the burden to such an extent that the presumption of innocence weighing in favour of the accused stands displaced. The court, therefore, granted benefit of doubt to the accused and acquitted them.

Case details

Venkatesh @ Chandra vs State of Karnataka | 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 387 | CrA 1476-1477 OF 2018 | 19 April 2022

Coram : Justices U U Lalit and P S Narasimha

Counsel: Adv Lakshmeesh S. Kamath for the appellants and AAG Nikhil Goel for the State

Headnotes

Indian Evidence Act, 1872 ; Section 27 - Tendency on part of the Prosecuting Agency in getting the entire statement recorded rather than only that part of the statement which leads to the discovery of facts - In the process, a confession of an accused which is otherwise hit by the principles of Evidence Act finds its place on record. Such kind of statements may have a direct tendency to influence and prejudice the mind of the Court. This practice must immediately be stopped. (Para 19)

Indian Evidence Act, 1872 ; Section 27 - Accused's statement recorded on a DVD and played in Court -  Such a statement is in the nature of a confession to a Police Officer and is completely hit by the principles of Evidence Act. If at all the accused were desirous of making confessions, the Investigating Machinery could have facilitated recording of confession by producing them before a Magistrate for appropriate action in terms of Section 164 of the Code. Any departure from that course is not acceptable and cannot be recognized and taken on record as evidence. (Para 20)

Media Trial - All matters relating to the crime and whether a particular thing happens to be a conclusive piece of evidence must be dealt with by a Court of Law and not through a TV channel. If at all there was a voluntary statement, the matter would be dealt with by the Court of Law. The public platform is not a place for such debate or proof of what otherwise is the exclusive domain and function of Courts of law. Any such debate or discussion touching upon matters which are in the  domain of Courts would amount to direct interference in administration of Criminal Justice. (Para 21)

Criminal Trial - A mere chart giving description of offences, numbers and the sections of the offences and about the nature of offences cannot be taken into account at the stage of conviction - If the Prosecution wanted the Court to take note of the fact that there were other matters in which accused were involved, the concerned Chargesheets should have been produced on record along with sufficient details including the judgments or orders of conviction. A mere chart cannot be taken as proof of the involvement of the accused in other crimes either at the stage of conviction or sentence. (Para 32, 22)

Criminal Trial - Sentencing -  Accused's involvement in other crimes may be a relevant factor provided the concerned material in the form of concluded judgments in the other matters are brought on record in a manner known to law. The established involvement in other matters would then certainly be relevant while dealing with the question whether the concerned accused is required to be dealt with sternly or leniently. (Para 23)

Criminal Trial - Circumstantial Evidence - Circumstances on the basis of which the conclusion of guilt is to be drawn, must be fully established - Principles discussed. [Referred to Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra AIR 1984 SC 1622, Musheer Khan @ Badshah Khan & Anr. v. State of Madhya Pradesh (2010) 2 SCC 748]

Summary :- Appeal by accused convicted under Section 394 IPC- Allowed - Prosecution has not been able to discharge the burden to such an extent that the presumption of innocence weighing in favour of the accused stands displaced.

Click here to Read/Download Judgment



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