Section 183 of BNSS or Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) : In-depth Analysis of Examination of Witness


Within the framework of the New Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita or old Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, Section 183 of BNSS addresses the authority bestowed upon a Judicial Magistrate or Metropolitan Magistrate in the context of recording confessions and statements. This specific provision is articulated in chapter XII of the Code, which pertains to information provided to the police and their investigative powers. Section 183 outlines a meticulous procedure that a competent Judicial Magistrate must adhere to when recording confessions and statements in the course of investigations. The primary objective behind establishing such a procedure is to safeguard the process, ensuring that individuals making confessions or providing statements do so voluntarily and without any form of coercion or undue influence.

Defining Confession

A confession is the acknowledgment of guilt, involving the admission or implication of guilt by an accused individual made while in custody. As per Justice Stephen, a “confession” is any admission made by a person facing criminal charges, indicating or implying that they committed the alleged crime.

In the case of State (NCT of Delhi) v. Navjot Sandhu (2005), the highest court noted that confessions are considered highly reliable because no rational person would make an admission against himself unless prompted by his conscience, to tell the truth. you might like to read about From Confession to Conviction: Navigating the Legal Landscape of Self-Incrimination

Understanding the weight of self-incrimination:

In the realm of law, the term “confession” carries significant weight. It refers specifically to a statement made by an accused individual that directly admits their guilt in connection with a crime. However, determining whether a statement qualifies as a true confession involves a nuanced analysis beyond simply acknowledging involvement.

The Principle of Self-Incrimination:

A crucial element of a confession is the act of self-incrimination. If the statement made by the accused does not explicitly or implicitly imply their involvement in the offense, it cannot be considered a confession. This safeguards individuals from unintentional incrimination through ambiguous statements.

The Grey Area of Mixed Statements:

The line becomes more blurred when dealing with “mixed statements” containing both seemingly confessional and self-exculpatory (justifying) elements. In such cases, even if the statement includes some elements that might be construed as admitting guilt, the presence of conflicting justifications may ultimately lead to acquittal. This underscores the importance of careful evaluation in interpreting such statements.

The Pitfalls of Inconsistent Statements:

A confession cannot be pieced together from fragments of a statement if other parts of the same statement contradict the incriminating elements. This legal principle is based on the concept that a confession must be considered as a whole, encompassing both inculpatory (accusatory) and exculpatory (justifying) aspects. Courts lack the authority to selectively accept only the incriminating portions and disregard the justifications provided by the accused.

Distinguishing between confessions and other forms of statements is crucial in legal proceedings. The presence of self-incrimination, the absence of contradictory justifications, and the consideration of the statement as a whole are all vital facets in determining the evidentiary value of a confession.

The Significance of Recording Statements by a Magistrate under Section 183 BNSS

When it comes to legal proceedings, the process of recording statements by a Magistrate under Section 183 of the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS) serves a dual purpose. Let’s delve into the reasons behind this crucial step:

  1. Dissuading Witnesses from Altering Testimonies:
    • The primary objective of recording witness statements promptly is to discourage witnesses from altering their versions later. By capturing their accounts immediately after an incident, we enhance the reliability of the information provided.
    • Witnesses who fear being involved in perjury are less likely to change their versions when their statements are recorded promptly.
  2. Overcoming Prosecution Immunity:
    • Section 162 of the CrPC grants witnesses immunity from prosecution based on their statements. However, recording statements under Section 164 allows the legal system to bypass this immunity.
    • Statements made during the course of an investigation hold significant evidentiary value. When recorded immediately after an incident, they are deemed more trustworthy compared to later narrations.

Types of Confessions under Section 183 BNSS

  1. Judicial Confessions:
    • These confessions occur either before a qualified Magistrate or during court proceedings. They form part of the official trial record.
    • When an accused person confesses before the Judicial Magistrate during the investigation, it falls under this category.
  2. Extra-Judicial Confessions:
    • Extra-judicial confessions take place outside the courtroom, away from Magistrates or formal court settings.
    • Section 183 of BNSS specifically addresses judicial confessions made during the investigative process.

In summary, the timely recording of statements not only ensures the integrity of evidence but also plays a crucial role in the pursuit of justice.

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