“Nothing spoils a confession like repentance” -Anatole France
The Supreme Court in the case of Indrajit das v. State of Tripura dealing with the issue of the evidentiary value of an extra-judicial confession stated that an extra-judicial confession is a weak piece of evidence particularly when it has been retracted during the trial stage. “The extra-judicial confession is a weak piece of evidence and especially when it has been retracted during trial. It requires strong evidence to corroborate it and also it must be established that it was completely voluntary and truthful,” the judgment said. The trial court and the Tripura High Court had convicted the accused-appellant under Section 302 (murder) read with Section 34 and Section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence, giving false information) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
In the instant matter, the prosecution’s case was based on circumstantial evidence. The alleged crime was not directly seen by the witness nor did the body of the alleged deceased man recovered. The criminal case was registered after the deceased man’s uncle informed the police that his nephew, who had gone out on his bike with two friends the previous day, was missing.
Around the same time, the police had received information that a huge quantity of blood was found on the road, along with a blood-stained knife and broken glass which could have been from the rear-view mirror of a motorcycle. Later, the police apprehended the appellant and a juvenile boy, who allegedly confessed that they had assaulted the deceased with a knife, thrown his belongings in a nearby jungle, and disposed of his dead body and motorcycle in a river.
Although the trial court and High court concluded the case in the appellant’s favour, the Supreme Court observed “In a case of circumstantial evidence, motive has an important role to play. Motive may also have a role to play even in a case of direct evidence but it carries much greater importance in a case of circumstantial evidence than a case of direct evidence. It is an important link in the chain of circumstances,”. After considering the statements of other witnesses, the Court held that “The appellant would be entitled to benefit of doubt. Accordingly, the appeal is allowed and the appellant is acquitted of all the charges,”.