Confession: Meaning and Types

A confession in Indian legal system is believed as a crucial and important evidence that can be used to establish guilt in a criminal case. But confession in itself is rarely admissible in the court unless, it is recorded as per the provisions defined under the evidence act. For example, confessions made under duress, coercion, or undue influence are not considered to be voluntary and therefore, are not admissible as evidence. A valid confession must be given voluntarily by the accused and must not have been obtained by any form of inducement, threat, or promise.

Meaning of Confession

A confession, as defined by Mr. Justice Stephen in his Abridgment of the Law of Evidence, is any acknowledgment made at any time by a person who is suspected of committing a crime that either expressly or tacitly affirms or indicates that he committed that offense.

However, the Indian Evidence explains different aspects and requirements of confession (i.e. from Section 24 to Section 30), but does not define term; Likewise, it can be assumed that it has a similar role to "admission" under section 17's definition.

Types of Confession

Following are the major types of confession −

Judicial Confession

Confessions given throughout the case in court or in front of a magistrate. Any municipal or judicial court may record confessions under Criminal Procedure Code Section 164, regardless of the case's jurisdiction. These are referred regarded as "judicial confessions" in accordance with Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code. This type of confession is known as a petition of guilty on agreement. Under the judicial confession, only judges are entitled to record statements; the executive is not allowed to record confessions. Section 80 of the Indian Evidence Act governs the admissibility of confessions as evidence. The confession must be intentional, and the suspects must be given protection, according to Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution, which handles "self-incrimination."

Extra-Judicial Confession

Confessions that are made outside of court or in front of a judge are referred to as extra-judicial. These confessions are typically thought of as unofficial confessions. No confessions would be coerced or the consequence of threats, promises, or coercion. If someone overhears this confession being made to oneself, it can be used as evidence against the speaker.

Confessions can also be made in letters. Such an extralegal confession is admissible in court to prove guilt. The Supreme Court has provided methods to determine whether extrajudicial confessions are reliable. When compared to court confessions, extrajudicial confessions are a weaker kind of evidence. Such confessions must be watched very carefully. The value of this confession only increases if the statement is convincing and consistent enough for the defendant to be shown to be mistaken in relation to his acknowledgment. It takes self-determining supporting evidence to sustain the extrajudicial confession.

Retracted Confession

Any voluntary confession that is retracted or revoked is referred to as a "retracted confession." The court will decide whether or not to believe such a confession to be credible. It changes depending on the circumstances and particulars of each situation. If the confession is validated, it can lead to a conviction. The recanted confession may only be used as a basis for conviction if the court finds that it was made voluntarily and with full knowledge of the consequences. However, the recanted confession must be supported by corroborating evidence.

When is a Confession Not Relevant?

The Indian Evidence Act, 1872, specifically addresses the question of whether a confession can be irrelevant in Sections 24, 25, and the pertinent portion of Section 27.

Section 24 of the Evidence Act, Confession Via Provocation, Threat, or Inducement

A confession shall not be relevant in a criminal action, in accordance with Section 24 of the Indian Evidence Act, if −

  • The confession was obtained through some sort of coercion, threat, or promise.

  • Such an enticement, threat, or promise was made by an individual in a position of authority.

  • The charge against the accused person was the subject of this provocation, threat, or promise.

  • According to the court, the incentive, threat, or promise must be adequate to give the accused person reason to believe that by making it, he would obtain some benefit or prevent some temporary harm related to the proceedings against him.

Section 25 of the Evidence Act, No Proof of Confession to Police Officers

A confession given to a police official may not be used as evidence against the individual who gave it, according to Section 25 of the Indian Evidence Act.

This prohibition serves the following purposes −

In order to shield the accused from third-degree guarantee a correct and impartial charge the right person with the crime.

Section 26 Of The Evidence Act, Accused Makes A Confession While In Custody

The accused cannot be held accountable for a confession he made while in police custody.


Confessions play a major role in criminal law. It is a section of the admission rules under the Evidence Act. Confessions are considered as sufficient evidence of guilt in court if they are true and regarded as acceptable. As described in this document, Sections 24 to 30 of the Evidence Act apply to the majority of the confession's elements. Additionally protected are the rights guaranteed by Article 20(3) of the Constitution, and the laws governing confession shield the accused against unfair treatment. A confession of this nature is admissible if the threat or temptation is completely absent.


Q1. How is confession different from admission?

Ans. While every admission is also a confession, not all admissions are confessions. Sections 18, 19, and 20 of the Indian Evidence Act deal with admission. They may serve as estoppels but are not conclusive in nature. Contrary to confession, admission acknowledges the facts of the offense without acknowledging that the crime was really committed.

Q2. Does police custody mean inside the police station?

Ans. No, the phrase "under the surveillance and control of the police with restrictions imposed" can also be used to describe being in police custody. In this view, a custody situation does not imply that the suspect is being held in solitary confinement in the police station or another location where the authorities can apply pressure to elicit a confession.