Calcutta HC Deprecates Recording Of Confessional Statements In Callous Manner; Orders Inquiry Into Errant Officials [Read Order]

Kolkata


Expressing serious displeasure at the “indifferent and callous manner” in which the investigation authority recorded the leading statements of an accused, the Calcutta High Court made significant observations on recording of confessional statements.

The Bench comprising Justices Suvra Ghosh and Joymalya Bagchi held that “True and complete disclosure of the crime is the heart and soul of a confessional statement.” In the present case however, the so-called leading statements of the accused were “shrouded in mystery” and did not inspire the Court’s confidence.

The observations were made during hearing of a bail application moved by one Sandhya Maloo, accused of killing her minor daughter.

As per the investigating authority, Ms. Maloo had given a confessional statement, claiming that after committing the alleged murder, she kept the girl’s body concealed at her apartment and she could show the same to the Police.

Findings

While the Court expressed its mindfulness of the gruesomeness of the crime, involving murder of a minor child, it held that the manner in which the leading statements of the accused were recorded, casted an “ominous doubt” with regard to its authenticity.

It observed,

the most clinching evidence with regard to the alleged recovery of the dead body and weapon of offence pursuant to the so-called leading statement of the petitioner appears to have been recorded in a most evasive manner.

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”.

It was held that the investigating authority did not record the confessional statement in terms of Regulation 99 of Calcutta Police Regulations which inter alia stipulates as below:

  • verification of confessional statements must be done
  • oppression or trickery in obtaining a confession must be avoided
  • to seek to obtain the confession first and the corroborative evidence afterwards is to reverse the proper order or proceedings. (If, however, a confession is volunteered in an enquiry, every effort be made to ascertain if there is evidence corroborative of any point in the confession which can be verified)
  • The officer recording the confessions shall immediately send the confession person to the prescribed Magistrate in order that the confession may be judicially recorded.

Under such circumstances the Court held that the confessional statement does not inspire judicial confidence. It further stated that the recovery of the dead body and other incriminating articles was from a place which was in the control of other members of the family.

In light of such “glaring lacuna” the Court allowed the Petitioner’s bail plea upon furnishing a bond of Rs.10,000/- with two sureties of like amount each, one of whom must be local, to the satisfaction of the concerned court.

The Court has also asked the Commissioner of Police, Kolkata to conduct an enquiry into the “indifferent manner” in which the investigation in the instant case was conducted, particularly the recording of the so-called confessions in utter disregard to all canons of fair procedure.

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,” the Court ordered while directing the Commissioner to submit compliance report by the next date.

Further, to ensure a fair and impartial investigation the Court has transferred investigation in the matter to Detective Department, Lalbazar.

Case Details:

Case Title: Sandhya Maloo v. State

Case No.: CRM No. 5973/2020

Quorum: Justice Suvra Ghosh and Justice Joymalya Bagchi

Appearance: Advocate Madhumita Basak (for Petitioner); Advocates Prasun Datta and Santanu Deb Roy (for State)

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