New Delhi: Observing that the "rampant" practice among the police to use third degree methods to extract confessions was well known, the apex court has said that courts should be cautious in accepting the confession made by an accused to the police when it is the sole ground for prosecution.
The prosecution case resting merely on confessional statement is weak evidence, the Supreme Court has said.
When the "prosecution case mainly rests on the confessional statement made to the police by the alleged accused, in the absence of corroborative material, the court must be hesitant before they accept such extra-judicial confessional statements," said the apex court bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra in their order Thursday.
"As is well known, the wide spread and rampant practice in the police in India is to use third degree methods for extracting confession from an alleged accused. Hence, the courts have to be cautious in accepting the confession made to the police by the alleged accused," the order read.
The observation came in the wake of the court allowing an appeal by an alleged member of ULFA Arup Bhuyan challenging his conviction by the designated TADA Court in Guwahati March 28, 2007. However, Bhuyan was granted bail by the apex court order of Oct 29, 2007.
The court said that the security furnished by Bhuyan in pursuance of that order stands discharged.
"Unfortunately, the police in our country are not trained in scientific investigation (as is the police in Western countries) nor are they provided with technical equipment for scientific investigation.
"Hence, to obtain a conviction, they often rely on the easy short cut of procuring a confession under torture," the order pointed out.
The order said: "Torture is such a terrible thing that when a person is under torture he will confess to almost any crime. Even the Joan of Arc confessed to be a witch under torture."
The conviction of Bhuyan solely rests on his confessional statement before the superintendent of police and therefore, "we are of the opinion that it will not be safe to convict the accused on the basis of the confessional statement," observed the judges.