Thursday, 18 October 2018

Leading judgment on extra judicial confession

 Extra-judicial confession is a weak piece of evidence and the
court must ensure that the same inspires confidence and is
corroborated by other prosecution evidence. In order to accept
extra-judicial confession, it must be voluntary and must inspire
confidence. If the court is satisfied that the extra-judicial confession
is voluntary, it can be acted upon to base the conviction.

Considering the admissibility and evidentiary value of extra-judicial
confession, after referring to various judgments, in Sahadevan and
Another v. State of Tamil Nadu (2012) 6 SCC 403, this court held
as under:-
“15.1. In Balwinder Singh v. State of Punjab 1995 Supp (4) SCC
259 this Court stated the principle that:
“10. An extra-judicial confession by its very nature is
rather a weak type of evidence and requires
appreciation with a great deal of care and caution.
Where an extra-judicial confession is surrounded by
suspicious circumstances, its credibility becomes
doubtful and it loses its importance.”
15.4. While explaining the dimensions of the principles governing
the admissibility and evidentiary value of an extra-judicial
confession, this Court in State of Rajasthan v. Raja Ram (2003) 8
SCC 180 stated the principle that:
“19. An extra-judicial confession, if voluntary and true and
made in a fit state of mind, can be relied upon by the court.
The confession will have to be proved like any other fact.
The value of the evidence as to confession, like any other
evidence, depends upon the veracity of the witness to whom
it has been made.”
The Court further expressed the view that:
“19. … Such a confession can be relied upon and conviction
can be founded thereon if the evidence about the confession
comes from the mouth of witnesses who appear to be
unbiased, not even remotely inimical to the accused, and in
respect of whom nothing is brought out which may tend to
indicate that he may have a motive of attributing an
untruthful statement to the accused.…”
15.6. Accepting the admissibility of the extra-judicial confession, the
Court in Sansar Chand v. State of Rajasthan (2010) 10 SCC 604
held that:
“29. There is no absolute rule that an extra-judicial
confession can never be the basis of a conviction, although
ordinarily an extra-judicial confession should be corroborated
by some other material. [Vide Thimma and Thimma Raju v.
State of Mysore (1970) 2 SCC 105, Mulk Raj v. State of U.P.
AIR 1959 SC 902, Sivakumar v. State By Inspector of Police
(2006) 1 SCC 714 (SCC paras 40 and 41 : AIR paras 41
and 42), Shiva Karam Payaswami Tewari v. State of
Maharashtra (2009) 11 SCC 262 and Mohd. Azad alias
Shamin v. State of W.B. (2008) 15 SCC 449]”
10
14. It is well settled that conviction can be based on a voluntarily
confession but the rule of prudence requires that wherever possible
it should be corroborated by independent evidence. Extra-judicial
confession of accused need not in all cases be corroborated. In
Madan Gopal Kakkad v. Naval Dubey and Another (1992) 3 SCC
204, this court after referring to Piara Singh and Others v. State of
Punjab (1977) 4 SCC 452 held that the law does not require that
the evidence of an extra-judicial confession should in all cases be
corroborated. The rule of prudence does not require that each and
every circumstance mentioned in the confession must be separately
and independently corroborated.
15. As discussed above, if the court is satisfied that if the
confession is voluntary, the conviction can be based upon the same.
Rule of Prudence does not require that each and every
circumstance mentioned in the confession with regard to the
participation of the accused must be separately and independently
corroborated. In the case at hand, as pointed out by the trial court
as well as by the High Court, R.K. Soni (PW-2) and R.C. Chhabra
(PW-3) were the senior officers of the bank and when they reached
the bank for inspection on 23.04.1994, the accused submitted his
confessional statement (Ex.-PW-2/A). Likewise, in the enquiry

conducted by R.C. Chhabra (PW-3), the accused had given
confession statement (Ex.-PW-3/A).
16. Contention of the appellant is that PWs 2 and 3 being the
higher officials, it cannot be said that the confession statement of
the accused has been made voluntarily and it must have been
under the inducement or under false promise of favour. Mere
allegation of threat or inducement is not enough; in the court’s
opinion, such inducement must be sufficient to cause a reasonable
belief in the mind of the accused that by so confessing, he would
get an advantage. As pointed out by the trial court and the High
Court, though the confession statement has been initially made in
the presence of R.C. Chhabra (PW-3) and M.P. Sethi by the
appellant, no question was put to R.C. Chhabra (PW-3) that extrajudicial
confession (Ex.-PW3/A) was an outcome of any threat,
inducement or allurement. The statement which runs to eleven
sheets has been held to be made by the appellant voluntarily.
Likewise, confession statement (Ex.-PW-2/A) made before R.K.
Soni (PW-2) was in the handwriting of the appellant made in the
presence of R.K. Soni (PW-2) and H.O. Agrawal, the then Assistant
Chief Officer (Inspection). Here again, it was not suggested to R.K.
Soni (PW-2) that Ex.-PW-2/A was outcome of some threat or

pressure. The trial court as well as the High Court concurrently held
that the confession statements (Ex.-PW-3/A and PW-2/A) were
voluntarily made and that the same can form the basis for
conviction. We do not find any good ground warranting interference with the said concurrent findings.
REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO.576 OF 2010

RAM LAL Vs STATE OF HIMACHAL PRADESH 

R. BANUMATHI, J.
Dated:October 03, 2018

These appeals arise out of the judgment dated 22.12.2008
passed by the High Court of Himachal Pradesh at Shimla in
Criminal Appeal Nos. 710-712 of 2000 in and by which the High

Court affirmed the judgment passed by the trial court thereby
affirming the conviction of the appellant under Section 13(1)(C) read
with Section 13(2) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and under
Sections 409 and 477-A IPC and the sentence of imprisonment
imposed upon him.
2. Briefly stated case of the prosecution is that accused was
employed as a Peon in the United Commercial Bank in January
1987. He was assigned the job of the Clerk as there was a
shortage of clerical staff in the bank and his job was of manning
Saving Bank accounts counter. His job was to receive money from
the account holders for deposit in Saving Bank accounts. He used
to make entries in their pass books in his own hand but would not
account money in the account books of the bank nor did he pass it
to the cashier. It is alleged that neither the appellant filled the payin-
slips nor was any deposit made in the scroll, daily case receipt
book and the cash payment book maintained by the cashier and he
used to pocket that money. When the depositors approached him
for withdrawals of money, he would make fake credit entries in the
ledger accounts and fill in the withdrawal slips and submit the same
to the officer concerned for payment. The Passing Officer misled by
the fake credit entry would allow the withdrawals. This way, the

appellant caused wrongful loss to the bank to the tune of
Rs.38,500/- during the year 1994. When the fraud came to light, a
Committee of two officers namely, R.C. Chhabra (PW-3) and M.P.
Sethi was deputed to hold a preliminary enquiry and the Committee
noticed bungling of accounts by the appellant. After that, Enquiry
Committee recommended thorough investigation in the matter. After
the preliminary enquiry, FIR was registered against the appellant
under Sections 409, 468, 471, 477-A IPC and under Section 13(1)
(C) read with Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act,
1988 (PC Act, 1988). After investigation, the appellant was charge
sheeted for the said offences.
3. To prove the guilt of the accused, prosecution has examined
thirteen witnesses and produced documentary evidence. Upon
consideration of the oral and documentary evidence, the trial court
held that the appellant in his capacity as a public servant, had
misappropriated the money entrusted to him, in discharge of his
duty, as a public servant. The trial court convicted him for the
offences under Section 13(1)(c) read with Section 13(2) of the PC
Act, 1988 and Section 477-A IPC for falsification of accounts with
intent to defraud the Bank and he was sentenced to undergo
rigorous imprisonment for a period of two years along with a fine of

Rs.5,000/. For the offence under Section 409 IPC, the appellant
was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for a period of five
years with a fine of Rs.5,000/- and all the sentences were directed
to run concurrently. The appellant was, however, acquitted for the
offences under Sections 468 and 471 IPC for the charge of forgery
by holding that the opinion expert is not precise. Being aggrieved
by the conviction, the appellant preferred the appeal before the High
Court which was dismissed by the impugned judgment.
4. Learned counsel for the appellant contended that the
appellant was working as Peon in the bank and as per bank rules,
no clerical job can be assigned to Peon/sub-staff which was
admitted by the officers of the bank viz. Prem Chand (PW-1), R.K.
Soni (PW-2), R.C. Chhabra (PW-3) and A.K. Gupta (PW-10). It was
contended that when any particular job is assigned to an employee
different from his duty, then the Manager is supposed to issue office
order/duty sheet whereas in the present case, no office order/duty
sheet was placed on record to establish that the appellant was
assigned the clerical job as alleged. The appellant mainly assails
the confessional statement contending that he did not voluntarily
make any confession statement and the confessional statement
could not have been made the basis for conviction.

5. Learned counsel for the State contended that the appellant
acted with dishonest intention to defraud the Bank by making false
credit and debit entries in the accounts of various account holders
thereby falsifying the account books of the Bank and the courts
below rightly convicted the appellant for defrauding the Bank and
the impugned judgment warrants no interference.
6. We have carefully considered the rival contentions and
perused the impugned judgment and evidence and materials placed
on record.
7. In his evidence, A.K. Gupta (PW-10), the then Manager of
UCO Bank, Nerwa Branch had stated that the appellant who was a
Peon in the branch was performing the duties of Cash Clerk for
shortage of staff. He further stated that while the appellant was so
working as Cash Clerk, the appellant used to receive cash from the
depositors for depositing the same in their Saving Bank accounts
and used to make the entries in the Cash Book then and there and
return the pass book to the customers by pocketing the cash so
given to him without making any credit entry in the ledger. A.K.
Gupta (PW-10) further stated that generally the pay-in-slip is filled in
by the depositor himself; but in order to pocket the money,
appellant-Ram Lal filled up the pay-in-slip. PW-10 further stated that

subsequently, when the depositors used to visit the Bank for
withdrawal of the cash from their Saving Bank accounts, appellant-
Ram Lal used to make false credit entries in the ledger books and
after making the debit entries in their accounts, he used to hand
over the cash to the customers.
8. The duty of the Peon was, of course, only to clean up the
office and other work in the office like moving files etc. There was, of
course, no office order in writing authorising the appellant to perform
the duties of Clerical Cadre. But in his evidence, A.K. Gupta (PW-
10) has stated that though there was no office order authorising the
appellant to perform the work of Clerical Cadre, he informed the
Head Office regarding the appellant for performing the duties of
Cash Clerk for want of shortage of the staff. In this regard, in his
evidence, R.C. Chhabra (PW-3), the then Deputy Chief Officer of
UCO Bank has stated that the Peon like appellant was not
authorised to do the work of Clerical Cadre. PW-3 has also stated
that A.K. Gupta (PW-10) and other officials of Nerwa Branch namely
S.S. Rana, B.S. Guleria were negligent in their duties by so
assigning the clerical work to the appellant. PW-3 was however
quick enough to add that it cannot be said that those officers (A.K.
Gupta (PW-10), S.S. Rana (PW-11) and B.S. Guleria) were

responsible for the act of committing fraud. There is no merit in the
contention of the appellant that in the absence of office order
authorising him to perform the clerical work, he cannot be held
responsible.
9. R.C. Chhabra (PW-3) was the then Deputy Chief Officer of
UCO Bank, Divisional Office, Shimla who inspected UCO Bank,
Nerwa Branch during the relevant time. R.K. Soni (PW-2) was the
Grade-I Officer at Zonal Office, Shimla who also inspected UCO
Bank, Nerwa Branch in the year 1994. R.C. Chhabra (PW-3) stated
that the appellant wrote confession statement in his own hand, in
the presence of M.P. Sethi and signed the same which formed part
of his report Ex.-PW-3/A. Eleven sheets are the tabulated
statements in respect of the Saving Bank accounts, in which fake
credit entries had been detected. At the foot of these statements,
the appellant wrote in his own hand and under his signature, that he
had received the money from the account holders, named in the
statements, for being deposited in their accounts, but instead of
accounting for the same in the respective account books of the
bank, the appellant misappropriated it and later on made fake credit
entries and forged the initials of the Manager.

10. After the preliminary enquiry was conducted, the Divisional
Office nominated two senior officers namely, R.K. Soni (PW-2) and
H.O. Aggarwal, who submitted the report consisting of 202 pages,
which has been made part of the investigation report, Ex.-PW-2/A.
R.K. Soni (PW-2) deposed in his evidence that the writings at pages
(143) and (144) of report Ex.-PW-2/A, was prepared by the
appellant-accused voluntarily in his own handwriting, in his
presence and in the presence of his co-investigator H.O. Aggarwal
and the appellant-accused admitted having received money from
various account holders, for being deposited in their Saving Bank
accounts and having made entries in their pass books. In his
confession statement, the appellant also admitted that he did not
account for the money, but misappropriated the same and that when
the account holder visited the bank for the withdrawal of the money,
he used to make fake credit entries in the ledger folio of their
accounts and on the basis of those fake entries, withdrawals used
to be made.
11. Contention of the appellant is that the confession statement of
the appellant was not voluntary and PWs 2 and 3 were persons in
authority who have pressurised the appellant to make the
confession and therefore, Ex.-PW-3/A and Ex.-PW-2/A cannot be

said to have been made voluntarily and cannot form the basis for
conviction.
12. Placing reliance upon Ajay Singh v. State of Maharashtra
(2007) 12 SCC 341, it was contended that extra-judicial confession
can only form basis of conviction if it is voluntary and person to
whom confession is made should be unbiased and not inimical to
the accused. Learned counsel also placed reliance upon Madan
Gopal Kakkad v. Naval Dubey and another (1992) 3 SCC 204 to
contend that extra-judicial confession of accused should not have
been obtained by coercion, promise of favour and should be
voluntary in nature acknowledging the guilt. Learned counsel
submitted that the officers who obtained extra-judicial confession of
the appellant (Exts.-PW-3/A and PW-2/A) had other vested interest
to act upon and the appellant being a Peon must have been allured
by the false hope of being absolved from the charges.
13. Extra-judicial confession is a weak piece of evidence and the
court must ensure that the same inspires confidence and is
corroborated by other prosecution evidence. In order to accept
extra-judicial confession, it must be voluntary and must inspire
confidence. If the court is satisfied that the extra-judicial confession
is voluntary, it can be acted upon to base the conviction.

Considering the admissibility and evidentiary value of extra-judicial
confession, after referring to various judgments, in Sahadevan and
Another v. State of Tamil Nadu (2012) 6 SCC 403, this court held
as under:-
“15.1. In Balwinder Singh v. State of Punjab 1995 Supp (4) SCC
259 this Court stated the principle that:
“10. An extra-judicial confession by its very nature is
rather a weak type of evidence and requires
appreciation with a great deal of care and caution.
Where an extra-judicial confession is surrounded by
suspicious circumstances, its credibility becomes
doubtful and it loses its importance.”
15.4. While explaining the dimensions of the principles governing
the admissibility and evidentiary value of an extra-judicial
confession, this Court in State of Rajasthan v. Raja Ram (2003) 8
SCC 180 stated the principle that:
“19. An extra-judicial confession, if voluntary and true and
made in a fit state of mind, can be relied upon by the court.
The confession will have to be proved like any other fact.
The value of the evidence as to confession, like any other
evidence, depends upon the veracity of the witness to whom
it has been made.”
The Court further expressed the view that:
“19. … Such a confession can be relied upon and conviction
can be founded thereon if the evidence about the confession
comes from the mouth of witnesses who appear to be
unbiased, not even remotely inimical to the accused, and in
respect of whom nothing is brought out which may tend to
indicate that he may have a motive of attributing an
untruthful statement to the accused.…”
15.6. Accepting the admissibility of the extra-judicial confession, the
Court in Sansar Chand v. State of Rajasthan (2010) 10 SCC 604
held that:
“29. There is no absolute rule that an extra-judicial
confession can never be the basis of a conviction, although
ordinarily an extra-judicial confession should be corroborated
by some other material. [Vide Thimma and Thimma Raju v.
State of Mysore (1970) 2 SCC 105, Mulk Raj v. State of U.P.
AIR 1959 SC 902, Sivakumar v. State By Inspector of Police
(2006) 1 SCC 714 (SCC paras 40 and 41 : AIR paras 41
and 42), Shiva Karam Payaswami Tewari v. State of
Maharashtra (2009) 11 SCC 262 and Mohd. Azad alias
Shamin v. State of W.B. (2008) 15 SCC 449]”
10
14. It is well settled that conviction can be based on a voluntarily
confession but the rule of prudence requires that wherever possible
it should be corroborated by independent evidence. Extra-judicial
confession of accused need not in all cases be corroborated. In
Madan Gopal Kakkad v. Naval Dubey and Another (1992) 3 SCC
204, this court after referring to Piara Singh and Others v. State of
Punjab (1977) 4 SCC 452 held that the law does not require that
the evidence of an extra-judicial confession should in all cases be
corroborated. The rule of prudence does not require that each and
every circumstance mentioned in the confession must be separately
and independently corroborated.
15. As discussed above, if the court is satisfied that if the
confession is voluntary, the conviction can be based upon the same.
Rule of Prudence does not require that each and every
circumstance mentioned in the confession with regard to the
participation of the accused must be separately and independently
corroborated. In the case at hand, as pointed out by the trial court
as well as by the High Court, R.K. Soni (PW-2) and R.C. Chhabra
(PW-3) were the senior officers of the bank and when they reached
the bank for inspection on 23.04.1994, the accused submitted his
confessional statement (Ex.-PW-2/A). Likewise, in the enquiry

conducted by R.C. Chhabra (PW-3), the accused had given
confession statement (Ex.-PW-3/A).
16. Contention of the appellant is that PWs 2 and 3 being the
higher officials, it cannot be said that the confession statement of
the accused has been made voluntarily and it must have been
under the inducement or under false promise of favour. Mere
allegation of threat or inducement is not enough; in the court’s
opinion, such inducement must be sufficient to cause a reasonable
belief in the mind of the accused that by so confessing, he would
get an advantage. As pointed out by the trial court and the High
Court, though the confession statement has been initially made in
the presence of R.C. Chhabra (PW-3) and M.P. Sethi by the
appellant, no question was put to R.C. Chhabra (PW-3) that extrajudicial
confession (Ex.-PW3/A) was an outcome of any threat,
inducement or allurement. The statement which runs to eleven
sheets has been held to be made by the appellant voluntarily.
Likewise, confession statement (Ex.-PW-2/A) made before R.K.
Soni (PW-2) was in the handwriting of the appellant made in the
presence of R.K. Soni (PW-2) and H.O. Agrawal, the then Assistant
Chief Officer (Inspection). Here again, it was not suggested to R.K.
Soni (PW-2) that Ex.-PW-2/A was outcome of some threat or

pressure. The trial court as well as the High Court concurrently held
that the confession statements (Ex.-PW-3/A and PW-2/A) were
voluntarily made and that the same can form the basis for
conviction. We do not find any good ground warranting interference
with the said concurrent findings.
17. In so far as the conviction under Section 13(1)(c) read with
Section 13(2) of PC Act, 1988, the appellant was sentenced to
undergo rigorous imprisonment for two years. For conviction under
Section 477-A IPC, the appellant was sentenced to undergo
rigorous imprisonment for two years. For conviction under Section
409 IPC, the appellant was sentenced to undergo rigorous
imprisonment for five years. The occurrence was of the year 1992-
94. Considering the passage of time and the facts and
circumstance of the case, the sentence of imprisonment imposed on
the appellant is reduced to three years.
18. In the result, the conviction of the appellant under Section
13(1)(c) read with Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act,
1988 and sentence of imprisonment of two years is confirmed. The
conviction under Sections 477-A IPC and 409 IPC is confirmed and
the sentence of imprisonment under Section 409 IPC is reduced to
three years. These appeals are accordingly partly allowed. The

appellant shall surrender himself within four weeks from today to
serve the remaining sentence, failing which the appellant shall be
taken into custody.
…………….……………J.
[R. BANUMATHI]
…………….……………J.
[INDIRA BANERJEE]
New Delhi;
October 03, 2018

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