Admission under the Indian Evidence Act 1872

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What do you understand by Admission?     

General Concept of Admission –
In general, Admission is a voluntary acknowledgment of a fact. Importance is given to those admissions that go against the interests of the person making the admission. For example, when A says to B that he stole money from C, A makes an admission of the fact that A stole money from C. This fact is detrimental to the interests of A. The concept behind this is that nobody would accept or acknowledge a fact that goes against their interest unless it is indeed true.

Unless A indeed stole money from C, it is not normal for A to say that he stole money from C. Therefore, an admission becomes an important piece of evidence against a person. On the other hand, anybody can make assertions in favor of themselves. They can be true or false. For example, A can keep on saying that a certain house belongs to himself, but that does not mean it is necessarily true. Therefore, such assertions do not have much evidentiary value.

Admission as per Indian Evidence Act –
Section 17 of the Indian Evidence Act defines Admission as thus –  An admission is a statement, oral or documentary, or contained in electronic form, which suggests any inference as to any fact in issue or relevant fact, and which is made by any of the persons and under the circumstances hereinafter mentioned.

As per this definition, any statement, which suggests any inference about any fact in an issue or relevant fact, and which is made by persons under certain circumstances, is an admission. These circumstances are mentioned in Sections 18 to 20 as follows –

Section 18 – Admission by party to the proceeding or his agent; by suitor in representative character; by a party interested in subject matter; by a person from whom interest derived – Statements made by a party to the proceeding, or by an agent to any such party, whom the Court regards, under the circumstances of the case, as expressly or impliedly authorized by him to made them, are admissions.
By suitor in representative character – Statements made by parties to suits suing or sued in a representative character, are not admissions unless they were made while the party making them held that character.

Statements made by –
(1) by a party interested in subject matter; persons who have any proprietary or pecuniary interest in the subject matter of the proceeding and who make the statement in their character of persons so interested; or
(2) by a person from whom interest derived; persons from whom the parties to the suit have derived their interest in the subject matter of the suit, are admissions if they are made during the continuance of the interest of the persons making the statements.

According to this section, statements made by persons who are directly or indirectly a party to a suit are admissions. Thus, statements of an agent of a party to the suits are also admissions. Statements made by persons who are suing or being sued in a representative character are admissions, only if those statements were made by the party while being in that representative character.

Similarly, statements made by persons who have a pecuniary interest in the subject matter of the proceeding and statements made by persons from whom such interest is derived by the parties in the suit, are also admissions if they are made while the maker had such an interest. For example, A bought a piece of land from B. Statements made by B at the time when B was the owner of the land are admissions against A.

Section 19 – Admissions by persons whose position must be proved as against party to suit- Statements made by persons whose position or liability it is necessary to prove as against any party to the suit are admissions if such statements would be relevant as against such persons in relation to such position or liability in a suit brought by or against the made if they are made whilst the person making them occupies a such position or is subject of such liability.

Illustration –
A undertakes to collect rent for B.
B sues A for not collecting rent due from C to B.
A denies that rent was due from C to B.
A statement by C that he owned B rent is an admission, and is a relevant fact as against A, if A denies that C did owe rent to B.

Section 20 – Admission by persons expressly referred to by party to suit – Statements made by persons to whom a party to the suit has expressly referred for information in reference to a matter in dispute are admissions.
Illustration –
The question is, whether a horse sold by A to B is sound A says to B “Go and ask C. C knows all about it” C’s statement is an admission.

To be considered an admission, it is not necessary for a statement to give a direct acknowledgment of liability. It is sufficient even if the statement suggests an inference about the liability. For example, A is charged with the murder of B by giving poison. The statement by A that he purchased a bottle of poison is admission because it suggests the inference that he might have murdered B using that poison, even though it does not clearly acknowledge the fact that A murdered B. In the case of Chekham Koteshwara Rao vs C Subbarao, AIR 1981, SC held that before the right of a party can be taken to be defeated on the basis of an alleged admission by him, the implication of the statement must be clear and conclusive. There should not be any doubt or ambiguity. Further, it held that it is necessary to read all of his statements together. Thus, stray elements elicited in cross-examination cannot be taken as an admission.

Q. Discuss the law regarding proof of admissions against persons making them and by or on behalf of them. “Admission cannot be proved by or on behalf of any person who makes it”. Are there any exceptions? Discuss.

It is important to note that the Indian Evidence Act does not require that admission be of statements that are against the interests of the maker. All that is necessary is that the statement should suggest some inference as to a fact in issue or relevant to the issue, even if the inference is in the interest of the maker of the statement. Self-serving prior statements are also admissions. For example, A person can say to B that he did not steal money from C. This is a self-serving statement and is a valid admission. Does this mean that a person can make self-serving statements and escape from his liability? The answer is no because such self-serving admissions are governed by the provisions of Section 21, which says the following –

Section 21 – Proof of admissions against persons making them, and by or on their behalf – Admissions are relevant and may be proved as against the person who makes them, or his representative in interest; but they cannot be proved by or on behalf of the person who makes them or by his representative in interest, except in the following cases –
(1) An admission may be proved by or on behalf of the person making it, when it is of such a nature that, if the person making it were dead, it would be relevant as between third persons under section 32.
(2) An admission may be proved by or on behalf of the person making it, when it consists of a statement of the existence of any state of mind or body, relevant or in issue, made at or about the time when such state of mind or body existed,  and is accompanied by conduct rendering its falsehood improbable.
(3) An admission may be proved by or on behalf of the person making it if it is relevant otherwise than as an admission.

Illustrations

(a) The question between A and B is, whether a certain deed is or is not forged. A affirms that it is genuine, B that it is forged. A may prove a statement by B that the deed is genuine, and B may prove a  statement by  A that deed is forged, but  A cannot prove a statement by himself that the deed is genuine,  nor can  B prove a statement by himself that the deed is forged.
(b) A, the captain of a ship, is tried for casting her away.  Evidence is given to show that the ship was taken out of her proper course. A produces a book kept by him in the ordinary course of his business showing observations alleged to have been taken by him from day to day, and indicating that the ship was not taken out of her proper course.  A may prove these statements, because they would be admissible between third parties,  if he were dead, under section 32, clause (2).
(c) A is accused of a crime committed by him at Calcutta. He produces a letter written by himself and dated at Lahore on that day, and bearing the Lahore post-mark of that day. The statement on the  date of the letter is admissible, because,
if A were dead, it would be admissible under section 32, clause (2).
(d) A  is accused of receiving stolen goods knowing them to be stolen. He offers to prove that he refused to sell them below their value. A may prove these statements, though they are admissions because they are explanatory of conduct influenced by facts in issue.
(e) A  is accused of fraudulently having in his possession a counterfeit coin that he knew to be counterfeit. He offers to prove that he asked a skillful person to examine the coin as he doubted whether it was counterfeit or not and that that
person did examine it and told him it was genuine. A may prove these facts for the reasons stated in the last preceding illustration.

From the above illustrations, it is clear that the general rule is that a person is not allowed to prove his own admission. Otherwise, as observed in R vs Hardy, 1794, every man, if he were in difficulty, or in view of one, might make declarations to suit his own case and then lodge them in proof of his case.  This principle, however, is subject to some important exceptions, which allow a person to prove his own statements. These are as follows –

Exception 1 – When the statement should have been relevant as a dying declaration or as that of a deceased person under Section 32. Section 32 deals with the statement of persons who have died or who otherwise cannot come before the court. The statement of any such person can be proved in any case or proceeding to which it is relevant whether it operates in favor of or against the person making the statement. In circumstances stated in Section 32, such a statement can be proved by the maker himself if he is still alive. In the situation described in Illustration (b), in a case between the shipowner and the insurance company, the contents of the log book maintained by the captain would have been relevant evidence if the captain were dead under Section 32. Therefore, the captain is allowed to prove the contents of the log book even in the case involving him and the shipowners.

Exception 2 –  Statements as to bodily feeling or mind – It enables a person to prove his statements about his state of mind or body if such state of mind or body is a fact in an issue or is a relevant fact and if the statement was made at the time when such state of mind or body existed and further if the statement is accompanied with his conduct that makes the falsehood of the statements improbable. In Illustration (d), the statements of A that show that he refused to sell them below their value, are self-serving admissions. However, it is acceptable because they reflect A’s state of mind and were associated with the conduct of refusing to sell that making their falsehood improbably.

Exception 3 – The last exception allows a person to prove his own statement when it is otherwise relevant under any of the provisions relating to relevancy. There are many cases in which a statement is relevant not because it is an admission but because it establishes the existence or non-existence of a relevant fact or a fact in an issue. In all such cases, a party can prove his own statements. These cases are covered by the following sections –

Section 6 –  When a statement is made relevant by the doctrine of res gestae i.e. due to part of the same transaction. For example, immediately after a road accident, if the victim has made a statement to the rescuer about the cause of the accident, he can prove that statement because it is part of the same transaction.

Section 8 – A statement may be proved by or on behalf of the person who makes it under Section 8 if it accompanies or explains acts other than statements or if it influences the conduct of a person whose conduct is relevant. For example, where A says to B, “You have not paid my money back”, and B walks away in silence, A may prove his own statement because it has influenced the conduct of a person whose conduct is relevant.

Section 14 – When the statement explains his state of mind or body or bodily feeling when any such thing is relevant or is an issue, it can be proved by himself. For example, where the question is whether a person has been guilty of cruelty towards his wife, he may prove his statements made shortly before or after the alleged cruelty which explains his love and affection for and his feeling towards his wife.

Keywords: Admission in India, Concept of Admission, Definition of Admission under the Evidence Act 1872.

Click here to read the Indian Evidence Act 1872.

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