Conviction on the basis of Extra Judicial Confession.

Conviction under Prevention of Corruption Act.

Extra-judicial confession is a weak piece of evidence and the court must ensure that the same inspires confidence and is corroborated by other prosecution evidence. In order to accept extra-judicial confession, it must be voluntary and must inspire confidence. If the court is satisfied that the extra-judicial confession is voluntary, it can be acted upon to base the conviction.

Misappropriation of funds u/s 409 of IPC:

R.C. Chhabra (PW-3) stated that the appellant wrote confession statement in his own hand, in the presence of M.P. Sethi and signed the same which formed part of his report Ex.-PW-3/A. Eleven sheets are the tabulated statements in respect of the Saving Bank accounts, in which fake credit entries had been detected. At the foot of these statements, the appellant wrote in his own hand and under his signature, that he had received the money from the account holders, named in the statements, for being deposited in their accounts, but instead of accounting for the same in the respective account books of the bank, the appellant misappropriated it and later on made fake credit entries and forged the initials of the Manager.

Corroboration if necessary:

If the court is satisfied that if the confession is voluntary, the conviction can be based upon the same. Rule of Prudence does not require that each and every circumstance mentioned in the confession with regard to the participation of the accused must be separately and independently corroborated. In the case at hand, as pointed out by the trial court as well as by the High Court, R.K. Soni (PW-2) and R.C. Chhabra (PW-3) were the senior officers of the bank and when they reached the bank for inspection on 23.04.1994, the accused submitted his confessional statement (Ex.-PW-2/A). Likewise, in the enquiry conducted by R.C. Chhabra (PW-3), the accused had given confession statement (Ex.-PW-3/A).

Coercion, threat or inducement:

Mere allegation of threat or inducement is not enough; in the court’s opinion, such inducement must be sufficient to cause a reasonable belief in the mind of the accused that by so confessing, he would get an advantage. As pointed out by the trial court and the High Court, though the confession statement has been initially made in the presence of R.C. Chhabra (PW-3) and M.P. Sethi by the appellant, no question was put to R.C. Chhabra (PW-3) that extra- judicial confession (Ex.-PW3/A) was an outcome of any threat, inducement or allurement. The statement which runs to eleven sheets has been held to be made by the appellant voluntarily. Likewise, confession statement (Ex.-PW-2/A) made before R.K. Soni (PW-2) was in the handwriting of the appellant made in the presence of R.K. Soni (PW-2) and H.O. Agrawal, the then Assistant Chief Officer (Inspection). Here again, it was not suggested to R.K. Soni (PW-2) that Ex.-PW-2/A was outcome of some threat or pressure. The trial court as well as the High Court concurrently held that the confession statements (Ex.-PW-3/A and PW-2/A) were voluntarily made and that the same can form the basis for conviction. We do not find any good ground warranting interference with the said concurrent findings

In the result, the conviction of the appellant under Section 13(1)(c) read with Section 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and sentence of imprisonment of two years is confirmed. The conviction under Sections 477-A IPC and 409 IPC is confirmed and the sentence of imprisonment under Section 409 IPC is reduced to three years.

[Source: Ram Lal vs State of Himachal Pradesh, decided by SC on 3 October, 2018]

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