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'Statements to Officers Can't be Used as Confession': SC Ruling for NDPS Cases

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This judgment settles the controversy after almost 30 years when a two-judge bench had allowed confessions recorded under Section 67 into evidence.

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Utkarsh Anand

In a judgment critical for the cases under the NDPS Act, the Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that statements recorded by an officer will not be treated as a confession.

By 2:1, a three-judge bench overruled two previous judgments of the Supreme Court and held that the statements of accused recorded under Section 67 of the NDPS Act cannot be used as a confession during trial.

The majority judgment by Justices Rohinton F Nariman and Navin Sinha has said such statements will be hit by Section 25 of the Evidence Act and hence, statements recorded before the officers cannot be treated as admissible as evidence of confession.

Justice Indira Banerjee, the third judge of the bench, dissented with the majority view.

This judgment settles the controversy after almost 30 years when a two-judge bench had allowed confessions recorded under Section 67 into evidence.

The NDPS Act makes a departure from other laws since it allows not only police officers but also officers authorized by the government to record complaints and investigate.

The question had thus arose if these authorised officers are to be treated as police officers or not since if they are 'police officers', statements recorded by them cannot be admissible as evidence.

Previous judgments in 1991 and 2008 held that the powers under Section 53 NDPS Act are insufficient to make the officer a 'police officer' and hence, statements to them can’t be treated as confession.

The majority judgment today overrules both these rulings and holds that while such statements can be used by the prosecution for other purposes, it certain cannot be treated as confession, to be used as admissible in law as evidence.


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