What is meant by ‘facts discovered’ in accordance with Section 27 of the Evidence Act?

Ans: The same question was raised before Hon’ble Apex Court in case of STATE (N C T OF DELHI) V/S NAVJOT SANDHU @ AFSAN GURU – reported in 2005 AIR(SC) 3820. On relying upon Privy Council’s decision in PULUKURI KOTTAYA AND OTHERS, V/S. EMPEROR- reported In AIR 1947 PC 67, it has been decided that ………..

“The first requisite condition for utilizing Section 27 in support of the prosecution case is that the investigating police officer should depose that he discovered a fact in consequence of the information received from an accused person in police custody. Thus, there must be a discovery of fact not within the knowledge of police officer as a consequence of information received. Of course, it is axiomatic that the information or disclosure should be free from any element of compulsion.

The next component of Section 27 relates to the nature and extent of information that can be proved. It is only so much of the information as relates distinctly to the fact thereby discovered that can be proved and nothing more. It is explicitly clarified in the Section that there is no taboo against receiving such information in evidence merely because it amounts to a confession. At the same time, the last clause makes it clear that it is not the confessional part that is admissible but it is only such information or part of it, which relates distinctly to the fact discovered by means of the information furnished. Thus, the information conveyed in the statement to police ought to be dissected if necessary so as to admit only the information of the nature mentioned in the Section. The rationale behind this provision is that, if a fact is actually discovered in consequence of the information supplied, it affords some guarantee that the information is true and can therefore be safely allowed to be admitted in evidence as an incriminating factor against the accused. As pointed out by the Privy Council in Kotayya’s case, “clearly the extent of the information admissible must depend on the exact nature of the fact discovered and the information must distinctly relate to that fact”. Elucidating the scope of this Section, the Privy Council speaking through Sir John Beaumont said “normally, the Section is brought into operation when a person in police custody produces from some place of concealment, some object, such as a dead body, a weapon or ornaments, said to be connected with the crime of which the informant is the accused”.

By quoting the following passage from the judgment of PULUKURI KOTTAYA AND OTHERS, V/S. EMPEROR- reported in AIR 1947 PC 67, Their Lordship has given a lucid exposition of the expression ‘fact discovered …

“In their Lordships’ view it is fallacious to treat the ‘fact discovered’ within the section as equivalent to the object produced; the fact discovered embraces the place from which the object is produced and the knowledge of the accused as to this, and the information given must relate distinctly to this fact. Information as to past user, or the past history, of the object produced is not related to its discovery in the setting in which it is discovered. Information supplied by a person in custody that “I will produce a knife concealed in the roof of my house” does not lead to the discovery of a knife; knives were discovered many years ago. It leads to the discovery of the fact that a knife is concealed in the house of the informant to his knowledge, and if the knife is proved to have been used in the commission of the offence, the fact discovered is very relevant. But if to the statement the words be added “with which I stabbed A” these words are inadmissible since they do not relate to the discovery of the knife in the house of the informant.”

Hence, it can be said that, ‘facts discovered’ means a discovery of a fact includes the object found, the place from which it is produced and the knowledge of the accused as to its existence.

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