Court procedures do not only look complex, they indeed are. The world of entertainment has deeply impacted our views regarding certain things, and court procedure is one of them. As pleasing and dynamic as it looks on a television screen, the reality is somewhat the opposite. The actual picture is that court processes take up a lot of time, simply because there are too many things to adhere to, be it a criminal or a civil case. And this is one reason why people avoid going to the courts with their issues. It is this plethora of processes, steps, and stages, that makes justice deliverable, because everything is put under scrutiny. As a result, young people into the profession, common folk, and even those holding relevant expertise in the legal field commit the mistake of confusing certain terms of law. Distinctions between the varied terms of law is necessary not only in order to proceed correctly in front of a court of law, but also to remain vigilant of what is happening around us.
The Indian legal system followed in the footsteps of the laws and policies of the British Raj. Major laws of the land, such as the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, the Indian Contract Act 1872, the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 etc., are almost replicas of the British laws of the same. Consequently, the legal jargon amassed within these laws becomes difficult to apprehend sometimes.
The Indian Evidence Act, 1872
As always, evidence is the crux of every case before a court of law. It is the basis upon which a court will deliver its judgment, and not merely on dealings or statements. Therefore, evidence has a separate Act that regulates the kinds of evidence, collection of evidence, presenting evidence before a court etc., compiled into the Indian Evidence Act of 1872. It is one of the primary Acts of the Indian legal system, and all evidence in every court in India is to be administered according to the rules and procedures laid down in this Act.
Talking about presenting evidence in a court of law, the legal term for the same is called “admission”. When evidence is presented in a court of law, and is accepted by the court of law as valid, then the evidence is said to be “admissible”. Since evidence can be oral or written or documented, we can say that evidence is admissible in oral form, written form or in a documented form. This may often be confused with “confession”, which is different from admission in several aspects. In order to discuss the difference between these two very important aspects of evidence law, it is important to consider them one by one.
When one is a party to a dispute in a court of law, one has to be very careful while speaking, because even though a sentence may not be incriminating, the judge may admit it in the form of evidence if he thinks that it is relevant to the case. Admission is, therefore, any statement which is made regarding or acknowledging a fact in a suit, and which is asserted to be true. The Indian Evidence Act defines admission in Section 17 by stating that admission is a statement, whether in oral or documented form, suggesting an inference to a fact in issue or a relevant fact, and is made by certain persons under certain circumstances. The word “certain” signifies that the Evidence Act mentions those persons and those circumstances which lead to a statement becoming an admission, which is mentioned between Sections 18 to 21. Black’s Law Dictionary also defines an admission as a statement or assertion made by a party or against a party to a case, and it can be an acknowledgment of certain facts being true.
Admission is of various types, but in order for it to be deemed valid, the admission should be unequivocal, unambiguous, and unconditional. It should be made with the intention of being bound by it, and should be able to exist independently without having to adduce evidence in support of it.
An admission is a substantial piece of evidence which proves the facts incorporated in the statement. It is such a statement which, when made, can relate to the facts of the case without any dispute. When a party makes an assertion which is deemed as an admission by the court, it is an acknowledgment of a fact on behalf of that party, and subsequently, it can be proved against that party by the opposite party. When an attorney or pleader makes an admission in full confidence and with full knowledge, it cannot be taken back. Also, it is important to keep in mind that a statement, when admitted in full, must always be taken in full, meaning that it cannot be broken down and used in parts against the party making the statement.
An admission, being only a statement, cannot be said to be a conclusive proof of anything. However, it does carry evidentiary value and may operate as estoppel against the person who has made it. Admission is rebuttable, which makes it the best evidence that the opposite party can rely upon to prove the party wrong.
According to Section 58 of the Evidence Act, statements made in the form of admissions need not be proved unless the court, at its discretion, requires so.
Confession is mentioned in Section 24 of the Evidence Act, under the heading of Admission, which implies that confessions are inherently a part of admissions. Although the section does not define the term, confession generally means acceptance of guilt by the accused. Largely used in criminal matters, a confession carries heavy evidentiary value when made in a court of law. In Pakala Narayana v. Emperor, confession was defined as being a statement which either admits the terms of the offence in consideration, or admits all the facts which constitute the offence.
A confession is a voluntary statement made by an accused in a criminal matter wherein he or she accepts that the offence has been committed by him or her. An accused may string the facts together substantially, and prove that the offence was committed by the accused in actuality. The court is to view the confession under two lights: that the confession was voluntary, and that it was trustworthy. In order to do so, the court will need to assess all the facts and circumstances of the case, compare the confession with the rest of the evidence of the case, and then decide whether the confession fits naturally with the surrounding events, which will lead to the confession being true.
Section 24 merely states that a confession will not be admissible in court if it is caused by an inducement, threat or promise emanating from a person in authority. If the court is of the opinion that such confession gives the accused a reasonable inference that the accused would be able to gain any advantage or avoid any evil of a temporal nature, then the said confession would be deemed irrelevant. Basically, a confession which is not voluntary and is only made in furtherance of a hidden intent is not a valid confession. Also, confessions in front of police officers are not the same as confessions made before a court of law; the former does not carry evidentiary value.
A statement will be held as a confession if it fulfills the following conditions:
- That the statement is, in fact, in the nature of a confession
- That the statement has been made by the accused
- That the statement has been made to a person in authority, and such person is authorised to hear confessions
- That the confession has not been obtained through threat or inducement or promise reasonable enough in the opinion of the court
Difference between Admission and Confession
There appears a thin line of difference between admission and confession, primarily because confession is a part of admission, but the same is of significance.
1) A confession is a form of admission, whereas the opposite is not true. Where a statement falls short of a confession, it can still be deemed as an admission.
2) Since a confession means acceptance of guilt, it always comes from the accused in a criminal case, whereas an admission, as a term, is mostly used in civil matters and can come from any party to the case.
3) A confession incriminates the person making it, i.e. it goes against the person making it. On the contrary, an admission does not go against the person asserting it. It depends on the opposite party to use that admission for rebuttal and prove the party wrong.
4) An admission is a statement that relates to a fact in issue or relevant fact to the case, it is not a fact in itself. Confession, on the other hand, is the direct acceptance of a fact.
5) Once an admission is made by a party or an attorney with full knowledge, it cannot be retracted, whereas a confession can be discarded if it is found that the confession was made involuntarily, or if it is incapable of being corroborated.
6) When there are multiple accused in a matter, then a confession of any one of them will operate as a confession against all of them, but an admission made by one person to the suit will not be termed as an admission from all the other persons when such persons are being tried jointly.
It is obvious that admissions have a wider scope than confessions, since confessions are only a type of admission. There are several major differences between Confession And Admission, but a major point of easy distinction is that confession is a direct statement that does not require evidence for it to be backed up. It is the responsibility of the court to determine the validity of a confession in light of the facts and circumstances of each case. On the other hand, an admission requires evidence for it to support conviction of any kind, usually on the part of the opposite party. In simpler words, where an accused makes a confession, the prosecution does not have any further duty of proving the guilt of the accused, but where a person makes an admission, the opposite party needs to provide evidence against the admission to prove it wrong.
Even though the law is pretty clear on confessions and admissions, overlaps are bound to happen because of the variety of cases that come before the courts. This leaves it to the courts to deliver judgments that can be used to further clarify the position, whether of confessions or admissions.
FAQs on Difference Between Confession And Admission
An admission operates both ways. Explain.
When a party to a case makes a statement that is considered an admission, then that very statement can be used to support the claim of the party itself, or it can be used by the opposite party to rebut the claim being made. To do so, the opposite party requires evidence to prove that the statement made is wrong.
What is the major difference between an admission and a confession?
A confession incriminates the person making it, i.e. it goes against the person making it. Whereas, an admission does not go against the person asserting it. A confession is a direct admission of guilt, making it a form of admission, but an admission is a mere statement made by any party to the case.
What are the essentials of a valid confession?
For a confession to be deemed as valid, it needs to have the following components:
1) That the statement is, in fact, in the nature of a confession
2) That the statement has been made by the accused
3) That the statement has been made to a person in authority, and such person is authorised to hear confessions
4) That the confession has not been obtained through threat or inducement or promise reasonable enough in the opinion of the court.
Also Read – Presumption of Innocence Principle in India
 Uttam Singh Duggal & Co. Ltd. v. United Bank of India, (2000) 7 SCC 120.
 Vathsala Manickavasagam v. N. Ganesan, (2013) 9 SCC 152.
 Charanjit Lal Mehra v. Kamal Saroj Mahajan, (2005) 11 SCC 279.
 Jagwant Singh v. Sitam Singh, ILR 21 All.
 The Indian Evidence Act, 1872, s. 31.
 AIR 1939 Privy Council 47.
 Shankaria v. State of Rajasthan, 1978 (3) SCC 435.
 Supra note 5, s. 26.
 CBI v. Shukla, (1998) 3 SCC 410.
 Pyare Lal v. State of Assam, AIR 1957 SC 216; Bharat v. State of U. P., 1971 (3) SCC 950.