Sunday 10 November 2019

Supreme Court: Accused can be convicted on basis of confession if it is retracted at fag end of proceeding

court may take into account the retracted confession, but it must look
for the reasons for the making of the confession as well as for its
retraction, and must weigh the two to determine whether the
retraction affects the voluntary nature of the confession or not. If the
court is satisfied that it was retracted because of an after thought or
advice, the retraction may not weigh with the court if the general
facts proved in the case and the tenor of the confession as made
and the circumstances of its making and withdrawal warrant its user.
All the same, the courts do not act upon the retracted confession
without finding assurance from some other sources as to the guilt of
the accused. Therefore, it can be stated that a true confession made
voluntarily may be acted upon with slight evidence to corroborate it,
but a retracted confession requires the general assurance that the
retraction was an after thought and that the earlier statement was
true. ...”
 It is
further clear that the petitioner was kept in judicial custody for almost
twenty months after the confession, over the course of which there
was no likelihood of him being entrusted to police, and still no protest
or attempt to retract the confession was made by him.

27. Further, it is essential to note that the petitioner failed to put forth any
protest against the confessional statement despite having multiple
opportunities during the course of trial. This Court has held earlier in
Shankaria v. State of Rajasthan10 that retractions must be made by the
accused as soon as possible, otherwise there would be a strong presumption
of voluntariness in the confession.
28. The confession, in the present case, was not challenged during stage of
framing of charge or over the course of examination of forty-seven prosecution
witnesses, but instead only partly disputed through a letter written in secret
just before petitioner’s examination under Section 313 of the Code. It is thus
evident that such retraction at the fag-end of the trial, was not natural but
rather meticulously formulated, perhaps as a part of defence strategy. Hence,
there remains no doubt about the voluntariness of the confession of
20.11.2010 or it being unaffected by subsequent retraction.
CRIMINAL APPEAL NOS. 1174-1175 OF 2019

Manoharan Vs  State by Inspector of Police,

Dated:NOVEMBER 07, 2019.
Read full judgment here: Click here

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