46) In a country like ours where discrimination on the ground of caste or religion is a taboo, taking lives of persons belonging to another caste or religion is bound to have a dangerous and reactive effect on the society at large. It strikes at the very root of the orderly society which the founding fathers of our Constitution dreamt of. Our concept of secularism is that the State will have no religion. The State shall treat all religions and religious groups equally and with equal respect without in any manner interfering with their individual right of religion, faith and worship.
47) The then President of India, Shri K R. Narayanan once said in his address that “Indian unity was based on a tradition of tolerance, which is at once a pragmatic concept for living together and a philosophical concept of finding truth and goodness in every religion“. We also conclude with the hope that Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of religion playing a positive role in bringing India’s numerous religion and communities into an integrated prosperous nation be realised by way of equal respect for all religions. It is undisputed that there is no justification for interfering in someone’s belief by way of ‘use of force’, provocation, conversion, incitement or upon a flawed premise that one religion is better than the other.
13) Now let us discuss the evidentiary value of photo identification and identifying the accused in the dock for the first time. Learned Addl. Solicitor General, in support of the prosecution case about the photo identification parade and dock identification, heavily relied on the decision of this Court in Manu Sharma (supra). It was argued in that case that PW 2 Shyan Munshi had left for Kolkata and thereafter, photo identification was got done when SI Sharad Kumar, PW 78 went to Kolkata to get the identification done by picking up from the photographs wherein he identified the accused Manu Sharma though he refused to sign the same. However, in the court, PW 2 Shyan Munshi refused to recognise him. In any case, the factum of photo identification by PW 2 as witnessed by the officer concerned is a relevant and an admissible piece of evidence. In para 254, this Court held:
“Even a TIP before a Magistrate is otherwise hit by Section 162 of the Code. Therefore to say that a photo identification is hit by Section 162 is wrong. It is not a substantive piece of evidence. It is only by virtue of Section 9 of the Evidence Act that the same i.e. the act of identification becomes admissible in court. The logic behind TIP, which will include photo identification lies in the fact that it is only an aid to investigation, where an accused is not known to the witnesses, the IO conducts a TIP to ensure that he has got the right person as an accused. The practice is not borne out of procedure, but out of prudence. At best it can be brought under Section 8 of the Evidence Act, as evidence of conduct of a witness in photo identifying the accused in the presence of an IO or the Magistrate, during the course of an investigation.”
It was further held:
It is trite to say that the substantive evidence is the evidence of identification in court. Apart from the clear provisions of Section 9 of the Evidence Act, the position in law is well settled by a catena of decisions of this Court. The facts, which establish the identity of the accused persons, are relevant under Section 9 of the Evidence Act. As a general rule, the substantive evidence of a witness is the statement made in court. The evidence of mere identification of the accused person at the trial for the first time is from its very nature inherently of a weak character. The purpose of a prior test identification, therefore, is to test and strengthen the trustworthiness of that evidence. It is, accordingly, considered a safe rule of prudence to generally look for corroboration of the sworn testimony of witnesses in court as to the identity of the accused who are strangers to them, in the form of earlier identification proceedings. This rule of prudence, however, is subject to exceptions, when, for example, the court is impressed by a particular witness on whose testimony it can safely rely, without such or other corroboration. The identification parades belong to the stage of investigation, and there is no provision in the Code which obliges the investigating agency to hold or confers a right upon the accused to claim a test identification parade. They do not constitute substantive evidence and these parades are essentially governed by Section 162 of the Code. Failure to hold a test identification parade would not make inadmissible the evidence of identification in court. The weight to be attached to such identification should be a matter for the courts of fact. In appropriate cases it may accept the evidence of identification even without insisting on corroboration.
It was further held that “the photo identification and TIP are only aides in the investigation and do not form substantive evidence. The substantive evidence is the evidence in the court on oath”.
14) In Umar Abdul Sakoor Sorathia vs. Intelligence Officer, Narcotic Control Bureau, AIR 1999 SC 2562, the following conclusion is relevant:
“12. In the present case prosecution does not say that they would rest with the identification made by Mr. Mkhatshwa when the photograph was shown to him. Prosecution has to examine him as a witness in the court and he has to identify the accused in the court. Then alone it would become substantive evidence. But that does not mean that at this stage the court is disabled from considering the prospect of such a witness correctly identifying the appellant during trial. In so considering the court can take into account the fact that during investigation the photograph of the appellant was shown to the witness and he identified that person as the one whom he saw at the relevant time”
15) In Jana Yadav vs. State of Bihar, (2002) 7 SCC 295, para 38, the following conclusion is relevant:
“Failure to hold test identification parade does not make the evidence of identification in court inadmissible, rather the same is very much admissible in law, but ordinarily identification of an accused by a witness for the first time in court should not form the basis of conviction, the same being from its very nature inherently of a weak character unless it is corroborated by his previous identification in the test identification parade or any other evidence. The previous identification in the test identification parade is a check valve to the evidence of identification in court of an accused by a witness and the same is a rule of prudence and not law. It is clear that identification of accused persons by witness in dock for the first time though permissible but cannot be given credence without further corroborative evidence. Though some of the witnesses identified some of the accused in the dock as mentioned above without corroborative evidence the dock identification alone cannot be treated as substantial evidence, though it is permissible.
21) Before analyzing the confessional statements of various accused persons and its applicability and the procedure followed by the Magistrate in recording the statement, let us consider various decisions touching these aspects.
22) In Bhagwan Singh and Ors. vs. State of M.P. (2003) 3 SCC 21, while considering these issues, it was held:
“27……The first precaution that a Judicial Magistrate is required to take is to prevent forcible extraction of confession by the prosecuting agency (see State of U.P. v. Singhara Singh, AIR 1964 SC 358). It was also held by this Court in the case of Shivappa v. State of Karnataka, (1995) 2 SCC 76 that the provisions of Section 164 CrPC must be complied with not only in form, but in essence. Before proceeding to record the confessional statement, a searching enquiry must be made from the accused as to the custody from which he was produced and the treatment he had been receiving in such custody in order to ensure that there is no scope for doubt of any sort of extraneous influence proceeding from a source interested in the prosecution.28. It has also been held that the Magistrate in particular should ask the accused as to why he wants to make a statement which surely shall go against his interest in the trial. He should be granted sufficient time for reflection. He should also be assured of protection from any sort of apprehended torture or pressure from the police in case he declines to make a confessional statement. Unfortunately, in this case, the evidence of the Judicial Magistrate (PW 1) does not show that any such precaution was taken before recording the judicial confession.29. The confession is also not recorded in questions-and-answers form which is the manner indicated in the criminal court rules.30. It has been held that there was custody of the accused Pooran Singh with the police immediately preceding the making of the confession and it is sufficient to stamp the confession as involuntary and hence unreliable. A judicial confession not given voluntarily is unreliable, more so when such a confession is retracted. It is not safe to rely on such judicial confession or even treat it as a corroborative piece of evidence in the case. When a judicial confession is found to be not voluntary and more so when it is retracted, in the absence of other reliable evidence, the conviction cannot be based on such retracted judicial confession. (See Shankaria v. State of Rajasthan, (1978) 3 SCC 435 (para 23)”
23) In Shivappa vs. State of Karnataka (1995) 2 SCC 76, while reiterating the same principle it was held:-
“6. From the plain language of Section 164 CrPC and the rules and guidelines framed by the High Court regarding the recording of confessional statements of an accused under Section 164 CrPC, it is manifest that the said provisions emphasise an inquiry by the Magistrate to ascertain the voluntary nature of the confession. This inquiry appears to be the most significant and an important part of the duty of the Magistrate recording the confessional statement of an accused under Section 164 CrPC. The failure of the Magistrate to put such questions from which he could ascertain the voluntary nature of the confession detracts so materially from the evidentiary value of the confession of an accused that it would not be safe to act upon the same. Full and adequate compliance not merely in form but in essence with the provisions of Section 164 CrPC and the rules framed by the High Court is imperative and its noncompliance goes to the root of the Magistrate’s jurisdiction to record the confession and renders the confession unworthy of credence. Before proceeding to record the confessional statement, a searching enquiry must be made from the accused as to the custody from which he was produced and the treatment he had been receiving in such custody in order to ensure that there is no scope for doubt of any sort of extraneous influence proceeding from a source interested in the prosecution still lurking in the mind of an accused. In case the Magistrate discovers on such enquiry that there is ground for such supposition he should give the accused sufficient time for reflection before he is asked to make his statement and should assure himself that during the time of reflection, he is completely out of police influence. An accused should particularly be asked the reason why he wants to make a statement which would surely go against his self-interest in course of the trial, even if he contrives subsequently to retract the confession. Besides administering the caution, warning specifically provided for in the first part of sub-section (2) of Section 164 namely, that the accused is not bound to make a statement and that if he makes one it may be used against him as evidence in relation to his complicity in the offence at the trial, that is to follow, he should also, in plain language, be assured of protection from any sort of apprehended torture or pressure from such extraneous agents as the police or the like in case he declines to make a statement and be given the assurance that even if he declined to make the confession, he shall not be remanded to police custody.
7. The Magistrate who is entrusted with the duty of recording confession of an accused coming from police custody or jail custody must appreciate his function in that behalf as one of a judicial officer and he must apply his judicial mind to ascertain and satisfy his conscience that the statement the accused makes is not on account of any extraneous influence on him. That indeed is the essence of a ‘voluntary’ statement within the meaning of the provisions of Section 164 CrPC and the rules framed by the High Court for the guidance of the subordinate courts. Moreover, the Magistrate must not only be satisfied as to the voluntary character of the statement, he should also make and leave such material on the record in proof of the compliance with the imperative requirements of the statutory provisions, as would satisfy the court that sits in judgment in the case, that the confessional statement was made by the accused voluntarily and the statutory provisions were strictly complied with.
8. From a perusal of the evidence of PW 17, Shri Shitappa, Additional Munsif Magistrate, we find that though he had administered the caution to the appellant that he was not bound to make a statement and that if he did make a statement that may be used against him as evidence but PW 17 did not disclose to the appellant that he was a Magistrate and that the confession was being recorded by him in that capacity nor made any enquiry to find out whether he had been influenced by anyone to make the confession. PW 17 stated during his deposition in court: “I have not stated to the accused that I am a Magistrate” and further admitted: “I have not asked the accused as to whether the police have induced them (Chithavani) to give the statement.” The Magistrate, PW 17 also admitted that “at the time of recording the statement of the accused no police or police officials were in the open court. I cannot tell as to whether the police or police officials were present in the vicinity of the court”. From the memorandum prepared by the Munsif Magistrate, PW 17 as also from his deposition recorded in court it is further revealed that the Magistrate did not lend any assurance to the appellant that he would not be sent back to the police custody in case he did not make the confessional statement. Circle Police Inspector Shivappa Shanwar, PW 25 admitted that the sub-jail, the office of the Circle Police Inspector and the police station are situated in the same premises. No contemporaneous record has been placed on the record to show that the appellant had actually been kept in the sub-jail, as ordered by the Magistrate on 21-7-1986 and that he was out of the zone of influence by the police keeping in view the location of the sub-jail and the police station. The prosecution did not lead any evidence to show that any jail authority actually produced the appellant on 22-7-1986 before the Magistrate. That apart, neither on 21-7-1986 nor on 22-7-1986 did the Munsif Magistrate, PW 17 question the appellant as to why he wanted to make the confession or as to what had prompted him to make the confession. It appears to us quite obvious that the Munsif Magistrate, PW 17 did not make any serious attempt to ascertain the voluntary character of the confessional statement. The failure of the Magistrate to make a real endeavour to ascertain the voluntary character of the confession, impels us to hold that the evidence on the record does not establish that the confessional statement of the appellant recorded under Section 164 CrPC was voluntary. The cryptic manner of holding the enquiry to ascertain the voluntary nature of the confession has left much to be desired and has detracted materially from the evidentiary value of the confessional statement. It would, thus, neither be prudent nor safe to act upon the confessional statement of the appellant…..”
24) In Dagdu and Others vs. State of Maharashtra, (1977) 3 SCC 68, the following paragraph is relevant:-
“51. Learned Counsel appearing for the State is right that the failure to comply with Section 164(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code, or with the High Court Circulars will not render the confessions inadmissible in evidence. Relevancy and admissibility of evidence have to be determined in accordance with the provisions of the Evidence Act. Section 29 of that Act lays down that if a confession is otherwise relevant it does not become irrelevant merely because, inter alia, the accused was not warned that he was not bound to make it and the evidence of it might be given against him. If, therefore, a confession does not violate any one of the conditions operative under Sections 24 to 28 of the Evidence Act, it will be admissible in evidence. But as in respect of any other admissible evidence, oral or documentary, so in the case of confessional statements which are otherwise admissible, the Court has still to consider whether they can be accepted as true. If the facts and circumstances surrounding the making of a confession appear to cast a doubt on the veracity or voluntariness of the confession, the Court may refuse to act upon the confession even if it is admissible in evidence. That shows how important it is for the Magistrate who records the confession to satisfy himself by appropriate questioning of the confessing accused, that the confession is true and voluntary. A strict and faithful compliance with Section 164 of the Code and with the instructions issued by the High Court affords in a large measure the guarantee that the confession is voluntary. The failure to observe the safeguards prescribed therein are in practice calculated to impair the evidentiary value of the confessional statements.”
25) Davendra Prasad Tiwari vs. State of U.P. (1978) 4 SCC 474, the following conclusion arrived at by this Court is relevant:-
“13….. It is also true that before a confessional statement made under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure can be acted upon, it must be shown to be voluntary and free from police influence and that the confessional statement made by the appellant in the instant case cannot be taken into account, as it suffers from serious infirmities in that (1) there is no contemporaneous record to show that the appellant was actually kept in jail as ordered on September 6, 1974 by Shri R.P. Singh, Judicial Magistrate, Gorakhpur, (2) Shri R.P. Singh who recorded the so called confessional statement of the appellant did not question him as to why he was making the confession and (3) there is also nothing in the statement of the said Magistrate to show that he told the appellant that he would not be remanded to the police lock-up even if he did not confess his guilt. It cannot also be gainsaid that the circumstantial evidence relied upon by the prosecution must be complete and incapable of explanation of any other hypothesis than that of the guilt of the accused.”
26) In Kalawati & Ors. vs. State of Himachal Pradesh, 1953 SCR 546 at 631, this Court held:
“…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.”
27) In State thr. Superintendent of Police, CBI/SIT vs. Nalini and Others (1999) 5 SCC 253 at 307, the following paragraphs are relevant which read as under:-
“96. What is the evidentiary value of a confession made by one accused as against another accused apart from Section 30 of the Evidence Act? While considering that aspect we have to bear in mind that any confession, when it is sought to be used against another, has certain inherent weaknesses. First is, it is the statement of a person who claims himself to be an offender, which means, it is the version of an accomplice. Second is, the truth of it cannot be tested by cross-examination. Third is, it is not an item of evidence given on oath. Fourth is, the confession was made in the absence of the co-accused against whom it is sought to be used.
97. It is well-nigh settled, due to the aforesaid weaknesses, that confession of a co-accused is a weak type of evidence. A confession can be used as a relevant evidence against its maker because Section 21 of the Evidence Act permits it under certain conditions. But there is no provision which enables a confession to be used as a relevant evidence against another person. It is only Section 30 of the Evidence Act which at least permits the court to consider such a confession as against another person under the conditions prescribed therein. If Section 30 was absent in the Evidence Act no confession could ever have been used for any purpose as against another co-accused until it is sanctioned by another statute. So, if Section 30 of the Evidence Act is also to be excluded by virtue of the non obstante clause contained in Section 15(1) of TADA, under what provision can a confession of one accused be used against another coaccused at all? It must be remembered that Section 15(1) of TADA does not say that a confession can be used against a co-accused. It only says that a confession would be admissible in a trial of not only the maker thereof but a coaccused, abettor or conspirator tried in the same case.
98. Sir John Beaumont speaking for five Law Lords of the Privy Council in Bhuboni Sahu v. R., AIR 1949 PC 257 had made the following observations:
“Section 30 seems to be based on the view that an admission by an accused person of his own guilt affords some sort of sanction in support of the truth of his confession against others as well as himself. But 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 Section 3, 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.”
99. The above observations had since been treated as the approved and established position regarding confession visà- vis another co-accused. Vivian Bose, J., speaking for a three-Judge Bench in Kashmira Singh v. State of M.P., AIR 1952 SC 159 had reiterated the same principle after quoting the aforesaid observations. A Constitution Bench of this Court has followed it in Haricharan Kurmi v. State of Bihar, AIR 1964 SC 1184.”
28) In State of Maharashtra vs. Damu (2000) 6 SCC 269, the same principles had been reiterated which read as under:-
“19. We have considered the above reasons and the arguments addressed for and against them. We have realised that those reasons are ex facie fragile. Even otherwise, a Magistrate who proposed to record the confession has to ensure that the confession is free from police interference. Even if he was produced from police custody, the Magistrate was not to record the confession until the lapse of such time, as he thinks necessary to extricate his mind completely from fear of the police to have the confession in his own way by telling the Magistrate the true facts.
25. We may make it clear that in Kashmira Singh this Court has rendered the ratio that confession cannot be made the foundation of conviction in the context of considering the utility of that confession as against a co-accused in view of Section 30 of the Evidence Act. Hence the observations in that decision cannot be misapplied to cases in which confession is considered as against its maker. The legal position concerning confession vis-à-vis the confessor himself has been well-nigh settled by this Court in Sarwan Singh Rattan Singh v. State of Punjab as under:
“In law it is always open to the court to convict an accused on his confession itself though he has retracted it at a later stage. Nevertheless usually courts require some corroboration to the confessional statement before convicting an accused person on such a statement. What amount of corroboration would be necessary in such a case would always be a question of fact to be determined in the light of the circumstances of each case.”
This has been followed by this Court in Kehar Singh v. State (Delhi Admn.)”
29) The following principles emerge with regard to Section 164 Cr.P.C.:-
(i) The provisions of Section 164 Cr.P.C. must be complied with not only in form, but in essence.
(ii) Before proceeding to record the confessional statement, a searching enquiry must be made from the accused as to the custody from which he was produced and the treatment he had been receiving in such custody in order to ensure that there is no scope for doubt of any sort of extraneous influence proceeding from a source interested in the prosecution.
(iii) A Magistrate should ask the accused as to why he wants to make a statement which surely shall go against his interest in the trial.
(iv) The maker should be granted sufficient time for reflection.
(v) He should be assured of protection from any sort of apprehended torture or pressure from the police in case he declines to make a confessional statement.
(vi) A judicial confession not given voluntarily is unreliable, more so, when such a confession is retracted, the conviction cannot be based on such retracted judicial confession.
(vii) Non-compliance of Section 164 Cr.P.C. goes to the root of the Magistrate’s jurisdiction to record the confession and renders the confession unworthy of credence.
(viii) During the time of reflection, the accused should be completely out of police influence. The judicial officer, who is entrusted with the duty of recording confession, must apply his judicial mind to ascertain and satisfy his conscience that the statement of the accused is not on account of any extraneous influence on him.
(ix) At the time of recording the statement of the accused, no police or police official shall be present in the open court.
(x) Confession of a co-accused is a weak type of evidence.(xi) Usually the Court requires some corroboration from the confessional statement before convicting the accused person on such a statement.