June 13, 2021

Admissions under Indian Evidence Act

Evidence Act

Introduction

Admissions are defined under Section 17 to 31 under the Indian Evidence Act ,1872. Sections 17 to 23 deal with general admission whereas Sections 24 to 31 deal with Confession. A Confession is an admission of guilt by the accused in a criminal case which is acceptable and valid in evidence.[1]

Admission can either be self-harming or self-serving (serve own interest). Self-harming evidence are acceptable evidence in the court of law. Admission can be done by silence too.

SECTION 17 An Admission is a statement, oral or documentary [or contained in electronic form], which suggests any inference as to fact in issue or relevant fact, and which is made by any of the persons, and under the circumstances, hereinafter mentioned.[2]

Basant Singh v. Janki Singh[3]

The Supreme court held:

  • Section 17 of Indian Evidence Act ,1872 makes no distinction between an admission made by a party in a pleading and other admissions. Under the Indian law, an admission made by a party in a plaint signed and verified by him may be used as evidence against him in other suits. In other suits, this admission cannot be regarded as conclusive, and is open to the party to show that it is not true.
  • All the statements made in the plaint are admissible as evidence. The court is, however, not bound to accept all the statements as correct. The court may accept some of the statements and reject the rest.
[The court rejected the statements which were against the plaintiff in the present case, because of other circumstances.]

Formal and Informal Admissions

Formal Admissions are judicial admissions, and in such a case, there is no need to prove the facts admitted. Section 58 of the Indian Evidence Act says that the facts which are judicially admitted need not to be proved. Whereas Informal Admissions are usually made in casual conversation in ignorance of the possibility of it being used in future litigation. For example, with friends, family, neighbour, and so on.[4]

Admission As A Waiver Of Proof

When parties make an admission of fact, it, in turn, amounts to a waiver of proof of such a fact. If a party admits any fact on its own then there is no need to give evidence to prove such a fact.

Admissions When Admissible

  1. Admission must relate to the subject matter.
  2. Admission must always be in the nature of self-harming form or statement.
  3. Admission must be made by persons and in circumstances mentioned under Section 18 to 20 of the Indian Evidence Act.

Who Can Make Admissions?

Section 18 of the Indian Evidence Act lays down the rules regarding as to who can make an admission. According to this section, there are five classes of persons whose statements will be considered as an admission in a suit. These five classes are: –

  • Party to the proceedings

The statements made by the parties to a proceeding as against himself is considered as a relevant admission. Under this Section, the term ‘parties’ not only means the persons who appear on the record in that capacity but also includes those persons who are parties to a suit without appearing. Persons who have an interest in the subject matter of the suit but are not parties on the record are also considered as parties in the proceedings and their statements have the same relevancy as the parties on record. Similarly, a person who although appears as a party on the record but has no real interest in the subject matter will not have any effect through his admission as against the person he is appearing on behalf of.

  • By the agent of such party who is authorised.

The statements made by an agent in a suit would be admissible as against the person he is representing. The statements made by an agent are, however, binding only when they are made during the continuance of his agency. So, when the agent’s right to interference has come to an end any statement made by him after that will not have any effect on the principal.

  • Suitor in a representative character, when he held that character.

When a person such as trustees, administers, executors etc., sue or are sued in a representative character, any statement made by them will only be admissible if made in their representative character. Any declarations made by them in their personal capacity will not be taken as an admission.

  • Party having pecuniary or proprietary interests.

 In any such suit where several persons are interested jointly in the subject-matter of the suit, then any admission made by anyone of the parties will be taken as an admission against himself as well as the other parties jointly interested in the subject matter. It does not matter whether the persons jointly interested in the subject-matter are suing or being sued jointly or separately. However, for this rule to apply there has to be prima facie foundation showing that joint interest exists between the parties suing or being sued.

  • Predecessor in the title (who was in the title before me).

Any statement made by the predecessor-in-title from who the party to the suit derives his title will be admissible. But this will only be held as an admission if the predecessor-in-title made the declaration while still holding the title and not after the title has been transferred. The statement made by the former owner will not be considered as an admission as against the parties if it was made title has been passed.

Section 19- Person Whose Position or Liability in Question Can Make Admissions.

 As general rule statements made by a third party to a suit are not considered as admissions but Section 19 is an exception to this rule. It refers to the statements made by a third party as against himself when it affects his position or liability and when such liability or position is relevant to be proved as against the party to the suit. The statements made by the third party, in this case, would only be relevant if the liability or position of that third party still exists at the time of the suit.

Section 20- Admissions by persons expressly referred to by party to suit

This section refers to when a party to the suit refers to a third party regarding some information a matter of dispute. Under this section, any statement made by such party will be taken as an admission against the person who referred to the third party. This Section is another exception to the general rule that statements made by strangers are not considered as an admission.

Admission means conceding something against the person making the admission. The sections deal only with admissions oral and written. Admissions by conduct are not covered by the sections. The relevancy of such admissions by conduct depends upon Section 8 and its Explanations.

Admission to Its Evidentiary Value

Admission is not conclusive proof of the fact admitted as it is a piece of prima facia evidence only. But it may operate as an estoppel. The person can be stopped to deny the truth of the statement.

The admissions referred to in the section are known as evidentiary admissions, i.e., admissions of which evidence can be given. The witness can say in court that he heard such and such a person make such and such a statement. The Act deals with another kind of admissions, called formal admissions dealt with in Section 58. These are deliberately made with respect to the matters in issue, which are before the court; whereas evidentiary admissions are not made in contemplation of the particular litigation.

The Supreme Court in Banarasi Das vs. Kanshi Ram, 1963 said, ‘it is a weak type of evidence, and the court may reject it if the contrary is proved.’

In Bishwanath Prasad vs. Dwarka Prasad, 1974, the Supreme Court met further observations-

1. Admissions are substantive evidence by themselves though they are not the conclusive proof of the matter admitted.
2. Admission duly proved are admissible in evidence irrespective of the fact whether the party making them appeared as a witness or not.
3. Clarification: Admissions will be admissible even when the party is not called as a witness.

The purpose of contradicting a witness in Section 145 and the object of proving admission here is entirely different. In case of contradiction, it will be necessary to put the statement to the witness so that he will have an opportunity to explain it. But it is not so required in admission.

In this context, Justice Krishna Iyer pointed out that admission is substantive evidence. While the purpose of section 145 is to clear doubt on the veracity (accuracy, truthfulness, correctness, faithfulness, conformity to facts) of witness and does not become substantive evidence.

In the case of Tara Singh v. State,[5] the court held:

The evidence in the committal court cannot be used in the Sessions Court unless the witness is confronted with his previous statement as required by Section 145 of the Evidence Act. Of course, the witness can be cross-examined about the previous statement and that cross-examination can be used to destroy his testimony in the Sessions court. If that serves the purpose of the prosecution, then nothing more is required, but if the prosecution wishes to go further and use the previous testimony to the contrary as substantive evidence, then it must confront the witness with those parts of it which are to be used for the purpose of contradicting him. Then only can the matter be brought in as substantive evidence under Section 288.

Admission As Estoppel

Section 31 of the Indian Evidence Act says that admissions are not conclusive proof of the matter admitted, but it may operate as an estoppel. A person can’t deny of the fact he admitted in court. And if it is treated as estoppel, rules of Section 115-117 of the Indian Evidence Act will apply.

In considering the value to be attached to an admission, it must be considered as a whole, though it is not necessary that it should either be believed as a whole or disbelieved as a whole, i.e., portions of it can be believed and other portions disbelieved. Though statements made in a book cannot be considered as conclusive admissions, yet they can be taken as additional circumstance along with other circumstances.[6]

When Admissions May Be Proved?

According to Section 21, Admission may be used against the party making the admission but it cannot be used by the party who makes the admission for his own use. This Section further lays down three exceptions to this rule. These exceptions are: –

1. Admissions falling under Section 32: This exception enables a person to prove his own statement where the circumstances are such that if he were dead, the statement would have been relevant in dispute between third parties (when veracity is not in doubt it can be brought).

2. Statement as to the bodily feeling of the state of mind falling under Section 14: The statement of men’s mind or body is relevant under section 14 and statement narrating such facts which indicate the state of mind or body made at or about the time when such state existed and which is accompanied by conduct are relevant.

3. Statement otherwise relevant, then it may be proved as otherwise relevant fact and not as admissions.

A statement which is of the nature of an admission on a mixed question of fact and law cannot be treated as an admission under Section 17, because only an admission of fact binds the maker and not an admission on a question of law.[7]

An admission made by a person, whether amounting to confession or not, cannot be split up and part of it used against him. An admission must be used either as a whole or not at all.[8]

Admissions When Irrelevant [Ss.22, 22-A, 23]

When Oral Admissions as to Contents of Documents Are Relevant

 According to Section 22, when there is a document then nobody can be allowed to prove the content of that document. However, there are some exceptions to this rule: –

  1. In the case the party is entitled to give secondary evidence of the contents of the documents then he can rely on oral Admission.
  2. In the case where the original document is lost or if it is in the possession of the opposition party, then also the party may make oral Admission.

In the context of a gift deed, one of the donor’s pleaded that he was a minor at the time of execution of the deed. His statement in the deed was that he was of 22 years. He was held to be bound by his statement in the deed. It was his burden to show that he was below majority at that time. [9]

Document must be proved by the document itself. But when the document is not available, then secondary evidence may be given for it underSection 65.

Section 59 says all facts except the contents of documents or electronic records may be proved by oral evidence.

Section 63(5) says oral accounts of the contents of a document given by some person who has himself seen it.

When Oral Admissions As To Contents Of Electronic Records Are Relevant

Section 22A Inserted by IT Act 2000. When genuineness of electronic record produced is in question, then only oral admissions as to the contents of electronic records are relevant.

When Admission in Civil Cases Is Relevant

 Section 23 –Where there is an agreement to the fact either express or implied that evidence of admission will not be given, then it will not be produced before the court. It is just to encourage the parties to settle their matter of dispute with full freedom where they can diverse the things.

It is only applicable to civil cases and do not extend to criminal cases. According to this Section, an Admission in a civil case will not be relevant if it is declared that upon the express condition made by the parties to the suit that the Admission should not be given or under some circumstances the court infers that the parties have made an agreement that Admissions will not be given.

Section 21 lays down that when an Admission is given without prejudice then such Admission will not be considered as relevant.


[1] Textbook on the Law of Evidence by Chief Justice M Monir (Author)

[2] Indian Evidence Act,1872

[3] AIR 1967 SC 341

[4] Law of Evidence by Vepa P. Sarathi’s (Seventh Edition)

[5] AIR 1951 SC 441: (1951) 52 Cri LJ 1491.

[6] Karan Singh v State of J&K, (2004) 5 SCC 698.

[7] Ram Bharose Sharma v Mahant Ram Swaroop, (2001) 9 SCC 471.

[8] Prakash v State of Karnataka, (2014) 12 SCC 133: (2014) 6 SCC (Cri) 642.

[9] Patel Prabhudas Hargovandas v Heirs of Patel Babubhai Kachrabhai ,AIR 2007 Guj 148.

Author: Vaishali Yadav  (Campus Law Centre)

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