Q. Discuss the provision of the Evidence Act under which a confession of one accused can be used against another co-accused.  [MPCJ 2013]

Ans.  Section 30 of IEA is an exception to the general law that confession is relevant only against maker and it is also in departure from English law. Due to its such nature, section 30 of the Evidence act empowers the court to take into consideration the co- accused confession against other co-accused only if following in-built safeguard is proved-

  • If the co-accused is jointly tried for the same offence which includes the abetment and attempt to commit the offence.
  • That co-accused confession also self-implicates. This requirement to some extent goes to take place of sanction of an oath and affords some guarantee that the whole statement is a true one.

Evidentiary value:- In stricto sensu, the co-accused confession is not even evidence against other accused as defined under section 3 of the act. But, section 30 of the IEA by virtue of special provision declares that “Court may take into consideration” the co-accused confession against non-maker. At the same time, it is clear from such phraseology that court is not duty bound to take the co-accused confession into consideration in all circumstances. Section 30 of the act also does not mention that such confession is prove of guilt against the non- maker. In fact, it is considered as a very weak type of evidence because it is made without oath and does not afford opportunity of the cross-examination to the non-maker against whom it is put. In the Locus classicus judgment Kashmira Singh Vs State of M. P. AIR 1952 S.C. 159, the hon’ble SC has laid down that confession of the co-accused can be used only in support of other evidence and cannot be made the foundation of conviction. Thus, the co- accused confession is not a substantive evidence against the non- maker. At best, it can be used only to lend assurance to other evidence available on the record against a co-accused.