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section 30

In Ananta Dixit v. The State1984 Crl. L.J. 1126 the Orissa High Court was considering a similar case under Section 30 of the Evidence Act. The appellant, in this case, was absconding. The question for consideration was whether a confession of one of the accused persons who was tried earlier, is admissible in evidence against the appellant. The Court held that the confession of the co­accused was not admissible in evidence against the present appellant. The Court held:


“7. As recorded by the learned trial Judge, the accused Narendra Bahera, whose confessional statement had been relied upon, had been tried earlier and not jointly with the appellant and the co­ accused person Baina Das. A confession of the accused may be admissible and used not only against him but also against a co­accused person tried jointly with him for the same offence. Section 30 applies to a case in which the confession is made by accused tried at the same time with the accused person against whom the confession is used. The confession of an accused tried previously would be rendered inadmissible. Therefore, apart from the evidentiary value of the confession of a co­accused person, the confession of Narendra Behera was not to be admitted under Section 30 of the Evidence Act against the present appellant and the co­accused Baina Das.” We are in complete agreement with the view of the High Court.


SECTION 30 : -

It would be noticed that as a result of the provisions contained in Section 30, the confession has no doubt to be regarded as amounting to evidence in a general way, because whatever is considered by the court is evidence; circumstances which are considered by the court as well as probabilities do amount to evidence in that generic sense. Thus, though confession may be regarded as evidence in that generic sense because of the provisions of Section 30, the fact remains that it is not evidence as defined by Section 3 of the Act. The result, therefore, is that in dealing with a case against an accused person, the court cannot start with the confession of a co- accused person; it must begin with other evidence adduced by the prosecution and after it has formed its opinion with regard to the quality and effect of the said evidence, then it is permissible to turn to the confession in order to receive assurance to the conclusion of guilt which the judicial mind is about to reach on the said other evidence. That, briefly stated, is the effect of the provisions contained in Section 30. The same view has been expressed by this Court in Kashmira Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 1952 SC 159 where the decision of the Privy Council in Bhuboni Sahu case, (1949) 50 Cri L.J. 872 has been cited with approval.


This aspect of the matter infact was also explained way back by the Apex Court in the case of Kashmira Singh v. State of M.P., reported in AIR 1952 SC 159, wherein while approving the observation of Sir Lawrence Jenkins that a confession can only be used to „lend assurance to other evidence against a co-accused‟ law was laid down as with regard to use of extra judicial confession of one accused against another co- accused in the following terms:


"10. Translating these observations into concrete terms they come to this. The proper way to approach a case of this kind is, first, to marshal the evidence against the accused excluding the confession altogether from consideration and see whether, if it is believed, a conviction could safely be based on it. If it is capable of belief independently of the confession, then of course it is not necessary to call the confession in aid. But cases may arise where the Judge is not prepared to act on the other evidence as it stands even though, if believed, it would be sufficient to sustain a conviction. In such an event the Judge may call in aid the confession and use it to lend assurance to the other evidence and thus fortify himself in believing what without the aid of the confession he would not be prepared to accept."


Supreme Court of India

Kashmira Singh vs State Of Madhya Pradesh on 4 March, 1952

It is evident that it is not evidence in the ordinary sense of the term because, as the Privy Council say in Bhuboni Sahu v. The King "It does not indeed come within the definition of" 'evidence' contained in section 3 of the Evidence Act., It is not required to be given on oath, nor in the presence of the accused, and it cannot be tested by crossexamination." Their Lordships also point out that it is "obviously evidence of a very weak type......... It is a much weaker type of evidence than the evidence of an approver, which is not subject to any of those infirmities."

They stated in addition that such a confession cannot be made tile foundation of a conviction and can only be used in "support of other evidence." In view of these remarks it would be pointless to cover the same ground, but we feet it is necessary to expound this further as misapprehension still exists. The question is, in what way can it be used in support of other evidence ? Can it be used to fill in missing gaps ? Can it be used to corroborate an accomplice or, as in the present case, a witness who, though not an accomplice, is placed in the same category regarding credibility because the judge refuses to believe him except in so far as he is corroborated ?

Translating these observations into concrete terms they come to. this. The proper way to approach a case of this kind is, first, to marshal the evidence against the accused excluding the confession altogether from consideration and see whether, if it is believed, a conviction could safely be based on it. If it is capable of belief independently of the confession, then of course it is not necessary to call the confession in aid. But cases may arise where the judge is not prepared to act on the other evidence as it stands even though, if believed, it would be sufficient to sustain a conviction. In such an event the judge may call in aid the confession and use it to lend assurance to the other evidence and thus fortify himself in believing what without the aid of the confession he would not be prepared to accept.

Then, as regards its use in the corroboration of accomplices and approvers. A co. accused who confesses is naturally an accomplice and the danger of using the testimony of one accomplice to corroborate another has repeatedly been pointed out. The danger is in no way lessened when the "evidence" is not on oath and cannot be tested by cross- examination. Prudence will dictate the same rule of caution in the case of a witness who though not an accomplice is regarded by the judge as having no greater probative value. But all these are only rules of prudence. So far as the law is concerned, a conviction can be based on the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice provided the judge has the rule of caution, which experience dictates, in mind and gives reasons why he thinks it would be safe in a given case to disregard it.


Supreme Court of India

Hari Charan Kurmi And Jogia Hajam vs State Of Bihar on 3 February, 1964

Bench: Sinha, Bhuvneshwar P.(Cj), Wanchoo, K.N., Gupta, K.C. Das, Shah, J.C., Ayyangar, N. Rajagopala

The question about the part which a confession made by a co- accused person can play in a criminal trial, has to be determined in the light of the provisions of s. 30 of the Act. Section 30 provides that when more persons than one are being tried jointly for the same offence, and a confession made by one of such persons affecting himself and some other of such persons is proved, the Court may take into consideration such confession as against such other person as well as against the person who makes such confession. The basis on which this provision is found is that if a person makes a confession implicating himself, that may suggest that the maker of the confession is speaking the truth. Normally, if a statement made by an accused person is found to be voluntary and it amounts to 'a confession in the sense that it implicates the maker, it is not likely that the maker would implicate himself untrue, and so, s. 30 provides that such a confession may be taken into consideration even against a co-accused who is being tried along with the maker of the confession. There is no doubt that a confession made voluntarily by an accused person can be used against the maker of the confession, though as a matter of prudence criminal courts generally require some corroboration to the said confession Particularly if it has been retracted. With that aspect of the problem. however, we are not concerned in the present appeals. When s. 30 provides that the confession of a co- accused may be taken into consideration, what exactly is the scope and effect of such taking into consideration, is precisely the problem which has been raised in the present appeals. It is clear that the confession mentioned in s. 30 is not evidence under s. 3 of the Act. Sec. 3 defines "evidence" as meaning and including-


(1) all statements' which the Court permits or requires to be made before it by witnesses, in relation to matters of fact under inquiry; such statements are called oral evidence;

(2) all documents produced for the inspection of the Court; Such documents are called documentary evidence.

Technically construed. this definition will not apply to a confession. Part (1) of the definition refers to oral statements which the court permits or requires to be made before it; and clearly, a confession made by an accused person is not such a statement. it is not made or permitted to be made before the court that tries the criminal case. Part (2) of the definition refers to documents produced for the inspection of the court; and a confession cannot be said to fall even under this part. Even so, s. 30 provides that a confession may be taken into consideration not only against its maker, but also against a co-accused person; that is to say, though such a confession may not be evidence as strictly defined by s. 3 of the Act, it is an element which may be taken into consideration by the criminal court and in that sense, it may be described as evidence in a non- technical way. But it is significant that like other evidence which is produced before the Court, it is not obligatory on the court to take the confession into account. When evidence as defined by the Act is produced before the Court, it is the duty of the Court to consider that evidence. What weight should be attached to such evidence, is a matter in the discretion of the Court. But a Court cannot say in respect of such evidence that it will just not take that evidence into account. Such an approach can, however, be adopted by the Court in dealing with a confession, because s. 30 merely enables the Court to take the confession into account.

As we have already indicated. this question has been considered on several occasions by judicial decisions and it has been consistently held that a confession cannot be treated as evidence which is substantive evidence against a co-accused person. in dealing with a criminal case where the prosecution relies upon the confession of one accused person against another accused person, the proper approach to adopt is to consider the other evidence against such an accused person, and if the said evidence appears to be satisfactory and the court is inclined to hold that the said evidence may sustain the charge framed against the said accused person, the court turns to the confession with a view to assure itself that the conclusion which it is inclined to draw from the other evidence is right. As was observed by Sir Lawrence Jenkins in Emperor v. Lalit Mohan Chuckerbuttv a confession can only be used to "lend assurance to other evidence against a co-accused". In In re. Peryaswami Noopan, Reilly J. observed that the provision of s. 30 goes not further than this : "where there is evidence against the co-accused sufficient, if,. believed, to support his conviction, then the kind of confession described in s. 30 may be thrown into the scale as an additional reason for believing that evidence." In Bhuboni Sahu v. King the Privy Council has expressed the same view. Sir. John Beaumont who spoke for the Board observed that a confession of a co-accused is obviously evidence of a very weak type. It does not indeed come within the definition of "evidence" contained in s. 3 of the Evidence Act. It is not required to be given on oath, nor in the presence of the accused, and it cannot be tested by cross-examination. It is a much weaker type of evidence than the evidence of an approver, which is not subject to any of those infirmities. Section 30, however, provides that the Court may take the confession into consideration and thereby, no doubt, makes it evidence on which the court may act; but the section does not say that the confession is to amount to proof. Clearly there must be other evidence. The confession is only one element in the consideration of all the facts proved in the case, it can be put into the scale and weighed with the other evidence." It would be noticed that as a result of the provisions contained in s. 30, the confession has no doubt to be regarded as amounting to evidence in a general way, because whatever is considered by the court is evidence; circumstances which are considered by the court as well as probabilities do amount to evidence in that generic sense. Thus, though confession may be regarded as evidence in that generic sense because of the provisions of s. 30, the fact remains that it is not evidence as defined by s. 3 of the Act. The result, therefore, is that in dealing with a case against an accused person, the court cannot start with the confession of a co-accused person; it must begin with other evidence adduced by the prosecution and after it has formed its opinion with regard to the quality and effect of the said evidence, then it is permissible to turn to the confession in order to receive assurance to the conclusion of guilt which the judicial mind is about to reach on the said other evidence. That, briefly stated, is the effect of the provisions contained in s. 30. The same view has been expressed by this Court in Kashmira Singh v. State of Madhya Pradesh where the decision of the Privy Council in Bhuboni Sahu's case has been cited with approval. In appreciating the full effect of the provisions contained ,in s. 30, it may be useful to refer to the position of the evidence given by an accomplice under s. 133 of the Act. Section 133 provides that an accomplice shall be a competent witness against an accused person; and that conviction is not illegal merely because it proceeds upon the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice. Illustration (b) to s. 114 of the Act brings out the legal position that an accomplice is unworthy of credit, unless he is corroborated in material particulars. Reading these two provisions together, it follows that though an accomplice is a competent witness, prudence requires that his evidence should not be acted upon unless it is materially corroborated; and that is the effect of judicial decisions dealing with this point. The point of significance is that when the Court deals with the evidence by an accomplice, the Court may treat the said evidence as substantive evidence and enquire whether it is materially corroborated or not. The testimony of the accomplice is evidence under s. 3 of the Act and has to be dealt with as such. It is no doubt evidence of a tainted character and' as such, is very weak; but, nevertheless, it is evidence and may be acted upon, subject to the requirement which has now become virtually a part of the law that it is corroborated in material particulars.

The statements contained in the confessions of the co- accused persons stand on a different footing. In cases where such confessions are relied upon by the prosecution against an accused person, the Court cannot begin with the examination of the said statements. The stage to consider

the said confessional statements arrives only after the other evidence is considered and found to be satisfactory. The difference in the approach which the Court has to adopt in dealing with these two types of evidence is thus clear, well-understood and well-established.


Supreme Court of India

Raja @ Ayyappan vs State Of Tamil Nadu on 1 April, 2020

Section 30 of the Indian Evidence Act mandates that to make the confession of a co­accused admissible in evidence, there has to be a joint trial. If there is no joint trial, the confession of a co­ accused is not at all admissible in evidence and, therefore, the same cannot be taken as evidence against the other co­accused.




012. Section 30
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