Bhubhoni Sahu Vs. The King: Should the Court act on the statement of an accomplice?

After reading this judgement, you will learn that the Court must not act on the statement of accomplice as it is a basic rule of prudence, as enshrined in our criminal law.
TITLEBhuboni Sahu Vs. The King 
CITATION(1949) 51 BOMLR 955
COURTHigh Court of Bombay
JUDGES/CORAMJustice V Simon, Justice Oaksey, Justice Macdermott, Justice M Nair and Justice Beaumont
DATE OF JUDGEMENT17.02.1949

NTRODUCTION

Section 164 Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 discusses the statements recorded by Magistrate.

Sub Section (1) approves the Magistrate to record the statement of a man or his admission, regardless of whether he groups locale for the situation. On the chance that he does not have such ward sub section (6) will apply. The word proclamation is not constrained to articulation by an observer yet incorporates blamed and not adding up to an admission. 

FACTS

The facts of the case are as follows: One person named Kalia Behara was brutally murdered at a place between Berhampur and Golantra. He lived and carried on business in Berhampur as a jutka driver. He was driving with his passengers in his Jutka to Golantra from Berhampur. It may be noted that the motive attributed to the appellant was that he was a relation of accused Nos. 1 and 2. The said accused persons were on terms of enmity with the deceased, but both were acquitted of the murder. Eight persons were charged with the offence and tried by the Sessions Judge of Jajnam-Puri. The learned Judge convicted six of the accused including the appellant, who was accused No. 7, and one Trinath, who was accused No. 5. The six convicted persons appealed to the High Court at Patna. The Court allowed two of the appeals but dismissed the other appeals, including those of the appellant and Trinath.

ISSUES

The main issue in the case was: Whether or not there was evidence upon which the appellant could be properly convicted.

SUMMARY OF COURT DECISION AND JUDGEMENT

In the present case their Lordships were in complete agreement with the Judges of the High Court and declined to act upon the evidence of the approver supported only by the confession of Trinath. These two persons appeared to have been nothing but hired assassins. They had ample opportunity of preparing their statements in concert. Additionally, the approver had sworn to two contradictory stories. Trinath had denied that his confession was true. It is true that no motive was shown for their false implication of the appellant. However, motive is often a matter of conjecture. It is possible that the two men thought it advisable to falsely say that they were acting on the instigation of another rather than on their own initiative. Another possibility is that they may have had reasons to conceal the name of the real instigator. For the above reasons their Lordships were of opinion that the conviction of the appellant could not stand.

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ANALYSIS

Before the passing of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, a Full Bench of the High Court of Calcutta in R. v. Elahee Buksh held that the law relating to accomplice evidence was the same in India as in England. Later, the Indian Evidence Act enacted Section 133. The said section provides that an accomplice shall be a competent witness against an accused person and a conviction is not illegal merely because it proceeds upon the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice. However, Illustration (b) to Section 114 of the Indian Evidence Act provides that the Court may presume that an accomplice is unworthy of credit, unless he is corroborated in material particulars.

The Courts in India read the two enactments together. Finally, the court held that whilst it is not illegal to act upon the uncorroborated evidence of an accomplice, it is a rule of prudence so universally followed as to amount almost to a rule of law that it is unsafe to act upon the evidence of an accomplice unless it is corroborated in material respects so as to implicate the accused and that the evidence of one accomplice cannot be used to corroborate the evidence of another accomplice. The law in India, therefore, is substantially the same on the subject as the law in England, though the rule of prudence may be said to be based upon the interpretation placed by the Courts on the phrase “corroborated in material particulars” in illustration (b) to Section 114.

A statement made under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure can never be utilized as substantive proof of the actualities expressed. However it may be utilized to help or test proof given in Court by the individual who put forth the expression. The statements made by the Approver under the Section obviously do not add up to the confirmation in material points of interest which the Courts require in connection to the proof of an accessory. An associate cannot confirm himself and polluted proof does not lose, its corrupt by redundancy. However, considering whether the proof of the approver given before the submitting Magistrate was wanted for that which he gave in the Sessions Court, the Court was qualified to respect that not long after the event, he had created an impression in indistinguishable sense from the proof which he gave before the submitting Magistrate. 

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The scholarly Judges of the High Court acknowledged the proof of the approver given before the submitting Magistrate. However, they maintained that it is hazardous to follow up on such proof except if it were supported in the way required by the standard of reasonability. Aside from the doubt which dependably connects to the proof of an assistant it would obviously be risky, as the Judges of the High Court perceived, to depend certainly on the proof of a man who had removed on promise, two distinct stories.

The Judges expressed the rule whereupon they proposed the following: It is absolutely critical, nonetheless, that such proof (i.e. the proof of an approver permissible under Section 288 of the Code of Criminal Procedure) before it very well may be followed up on as against other denounced parsons, ought to be supported by free proof in material points of interest. The corroboration must be as to the event as well as against such of the blamed looked to be ensnared in the wrongdoing.

CONCLUSION

The object of recording the statement is to safeguard the proof, get the record of the declaration of the observer at the principal occasion and keeping in mind that it is still new and to save withdrawal of the declaration at the later stage. The statement recorded under Section 164 of the code can be utilized to support the observer’s declaration at the trial. The application for recording the statement under this area is generally documented by the arrangement. The officer needs to guarantee before recording the statement the intention of an admission.

–END OF CASE COMMENT–