What are the objects and reasons of the provision of Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872?
Ans: Confession of an offence by accused before police officer is under our criminal justice system excluded from admitting in evidence because the person to whom it was made is not to be relied on for proving such confession and he is suspected of employing coercion to obtain the confession. Legislature had in view the malpractice of police officer in extorting confession from accused persons in order to gain credit by securing conviction and may be those malpractice go to the length of positive torture, while legislating provisions like Section 24, 25 and 26 of the Evidence Act, which clearly provides that confession caused by inducement, threat or promise are irrelevant in criminal proceedings. Confession to police officer is not allowed to be proved and further confession by accused while in custody of police not to be proved is the law of the land.
However, there are certain exceptions to above rule of Criminal Justice System and there are circumstances, where even confessional statement of the accused becomes admissible in evidence, those circumstances permitted by law may be enumerated as under,
(1) Reliable Judicial Confession,
(2) Reliable Extra-Judicial Confession,
(3) Fact discovered, upon information received from an accused in custody. (Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act)
We are concerned with the 3rd Exception i.e. Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act. On bare reading, it is abundantly clear that Section 27 of the Evidence Act acts as a “proviso” or exception to Section 25 and 26 of the same Act inasmuch as Section 27 begins with “Provided that”. This provision goes to the extent to permit even confessional statement of the accused of any crime in police custody to a police officer to render admissible in evidence. This carving provision of Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act is deviating from principles of criminal jurisprudence, that confessional statement by accused before police is admissible.
The provisions of Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act seems to be based on the view that if a fact is actually discovered in consequence of information given by the accused, some guarantee is afforded thereby that the information was true and accordingly that information can be safely allowed to be given in evidence. The drafting of the provisions of Section 27 undoubtedly ensures fair trial to the accused in consonance with basic principles of criminal jurisprudence and it is therefore categorically provides extent of information given by the accused, which is admissible. This is so because it is provided under Section 27 of the Indian Evidence Act that admissibility of the information given by the accused, be confessional, depends on the exact nature of the fact discovered to which, such information is required to relate. The fact discovered embraces the place from which, the object is discovered and knowledge of the accused as to this, and the information given, must relate distinctly to this fact. It is further provided that if necessary, information given by the accused, may be dissected and part of the information which relates to the discovery only is admissible.
Needless, it is to say that the information disclosed by the accused under Section 27 before Police Officer must be voluntary otherwise, the fact of discovery itself would be rendered doubtful.
It is settled law that unless a fact is discovered, the mere statement of the accused under Section 27 of the Evidence Act is not admissible.