Calcutta High Court
Calcutta High Court
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True and complete disclosure the heart of confession: Calcutta HC pulls up police for recording leading statements as Confessional Statement

"We are constrained to hold that the purported confessional statements leading to recovery are shrouded in mystery and prima facie do not inspire confidence", the Bench ruled.

Lydia Suzanne Thomas

The Calcutta High Court recently expressed its ire over leading statements being passed off as a confessional statement in a criminal case, while granting bail to a woman who is accused of murdering her minor child (In Re:- An application for bail under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in the matter of Sandhya Maloo).

Taking critical note of the manner in which the supposed confession was recorded and expressing its dissatisfaction with the facts leading up to the confession being "shrouded in mystery", the Bench of Justices Joymalya Bagchi and Suvra Ghosh said,

"We are not unmindful of the gruesomeness of the crime involving murder of a minor child. However, we express serious displeasure at the indifferent and callous manner in which investigation was conducted particularly the manner in which so-called leading statements of the accused was recorded."

In this case, the Bench noted that instead of a categorical admission of guilt, the accused person's confessional statements were preceded by the phrase "After committing the murder", leading the Court find that the confession does not inspire confidence.

The Court added,

"True and complete disclosure of the crime is the heart and soul of a confessional statement. No such disclosure is evident in the aforesaid statements although the purported statements are prefaced by the words 'after committing the murder.' Recording of confessional statement in the aforesaid manner is patently contrary to law and the prevalent regulation."
Calcutta High Court

In light of the laconic and indifferent manner in which the investigation was conducted in this case, the Court directed an inquiry to be conducted into the crime's investigation, and the commencement of disciplinary proceedings, if any lapses were discovered.

"Needless to mention, the Commissioner shall promptly initiate appropriate disciplinary proceeding against the investigating officer in the event he is unable to render proper explanation for his conduct in the course of the said enquiry. Commissioner of Police, Kolkata shall submit report with regard to steps taken by him in the matter on the next date", the Court said.

Apart from this, the Bench required investigation authorities to transfer the investigations to a 'superior police officer' in the Detective Department, Lalbazar. Once the case is transferred, the investigation is to be supervised by the Deputy Commissioner of the Department, the Court instructed.

The Prosecution had submitted before the Court that the bail applicant had confessed to killing her child. She is also stated to have led the police to the place where she claimed the child's corpse lay and to other material she supposedly used for the killing, the Court was told.

However, given the manner in which the confessional statement was phrased, the Court opined that the confession was inconclusive and not obtained in consonance with Regulation 99 of the Police Regulation of Calcutta,1968.

The Regulation requires police to verify confessional statements to ensure their authenticity. Additionally, it directs the Police to forward the confessor to a Magistrate to record the confession.

In this case, however, the Bench found the confession to have been recorded with indifference. The Judges remarked that the "manner and circumstances attending such recording cast an ominous doubt with regard to authenticity."

Expressing its displeasure with this glaring lacuna in the investigation, the Court proceeded to direct the release of the accused woman on bail.

The Commissioner of Police has also been directed to submit a report on the steps taken in the case.

Read the Order:

In Re An application for bail under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in the matter of Sandhya Maloo..pdf
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