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Material evidence is considered as a confession statement of the accused: Ranchi High Court

Any confession or incriminating statement recorded in the course of an inquiry under Section 8(1) of Railway Property (Unlawful Possession) Act 1966, cannot be excluded from the evidence under the said section held by  Hon’ble Mrs Justice Anubha Rawat Choudhary [Cr. Rev. No. 448 of 2012].

The background of the case arises from the course of working out on source information about concealment and storing of huge quantity of railway material, a raid and search were conducted by the Inspector, Railway Protection force with the help of officers of the local police station in the home-cum-go-down. The owner of the go-down flew away leaving the employees to handling and running the go-down dealing with scrap material and stolen railway property. During the search, 71 numbers of railway distribution valve spheres contained in 5 gunny bags, aluminium cable in 5 gunny bags weighing 125 Kgs were found and one gunny bag containing pieces of a plastic insulator or signal cable was recovered and seized. 

The petitioner has been convicted based on the confessional statement and co-accused. Apart from the confession statement, there is no material whatsoever to connect the petitioner with the alleged offence. Considering the seizure doesn’t lead to any recovery. The confession of the petitioner was recorded after the seizure. The confession by itself cannot be the sole basis of conviction of the petitioner by Section 25 of the Evidence Act. The officers of the Railway Protection Force are also Police officers by Section 25 of the Indian Evidence Act and accordingly not admissible in evidence. 

The fundamental theory is that the petitioner cannot be convicted based on the confession statement. The confession statement was not under Section 313 of Cr. P.C and accordingly the conviction cannot be sustained in the eyes of law. No legal evidence to connect the petitioner with the crime and therefore the petitioner has been wrongly convicted. 

The argument of the state submitted that there are concurrent findings recorded after scrutinizing the evidence on record. Along with it, there is no scope for a reappreciation of evidence to convict a person under Section 3 of the aforesaid Act, the stolen goods belonging to Railways do not need to be seized from the physical possession of the accused. 

There is always repeated theft of Railway Distributor Valves and signal cables and efforts were being made by the officers and the staff of Railway Protection Force to detect such theft and find out the criminals who were involved in the commission of such offence and also those who purchase of such stolen articles of Railways. 

The Hon’ble Court held that the “un-retracted and proved confessional statement of the petitioner recorded by the officer can be the sole basis of conviction of the petitioner under Section 3 of the Aforesaid Act as the same is admissible in evidence and not hit by section 25 of the Evidence Act”. The confessional statement of the petitioner was admitted in evidence without any objection from the side of the defence and other co-accuses. 

Click here to read the judgment.

Judgment Reviewed by – Kaviya S.

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