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Policy & Politics


Tarun Nangia



The traders of the country left no stone unturned to maintain the supply of essential commodities across the country during the corona lock-down, but despite that, traders were disappointed in the absence of any allocation to traders in various economic packages. There is a lot of hope on the Union Budget to be held announced today. The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) said that after COVID lockdown, the government may announce a levy of some taxes to increase revenue sources but it will be interesting to see what kind of taxes will be levied and their effect on trade & commerce of the Country. Announcement of a National Trade Policy for Retail Trade, E-commerce Policy with a Regulatory Authority and Voluntary Disclosure Scheme (VDS) with an assurance that no one will be questioned, to bring alleged hidden trade into the mainstream of trade & commerce may also figure in the Union Budget-said the CAIT.

CAIT National President BC Bhartia and Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said in a joint statement that traders of the Country are hoping that domestic trade will be a priority sector in the Union Budget and since the traders are struggling with financial crisis and have not been included in any economic package announced during lockdown, the budget will carry a special focus on availability of finance to traders by banks and financial institutions on easy terms and at a concessional rate of interest. The traders will be included in the 25% income tax slab at par with the corporate sector. In order to achieve success of vocal for local and Atmnirbhar Bharat campaign of the Prime Minister, a comprehensive scheme may be announced to encourage the traders, artisans, handicrafts and people working in the ancient art vertical of the country to join this campaign in the budget. Special emphasis may be laid on promoting more and more women to become entrepreneurs and self employed.

Bhartia and Khandelwal have also hoped that the policy of simplification of the GST tax system which has become very complex should also be announced in the budget, on the other hand, the formation of a task force to review all kinds of laws on traders may also be a part of the budget. Replacement of about 28 types of licenses applicable on trade with one license on the pattern of Aadhar may also be included in the policy announcement of the budget whereas on the other hand a comprehensive scheme may also be announced for facilitating ease of doing business. In place of about 28 types of licenses on domestic trade in the country, the announcement of the implementation of only one license like Aadhaar should be made in the budget. They also said that the announcement of a special fund for the welfare of the Indian forces and police force of all States may be announced and the citizens be prompted to make donations to this fund and such donations will attract the benefit of Income tax.

Bhartia and Khandelwal said that the government has connected all the departments to the e-system, therefore it is essential that for easy and timely compliance of tax and other laws, a scheme may also be announced to offer government support in purchasing computers and allied equipment. They also said that to ensure maximum usage of digital payments, the bank charges levied on such payments must be removed on either the traders or consumers and the Government may compensate such charges to the banks directly .A policy announcement may also be a part of the budget to boost exports and as such traders, artisans, handicraft and handloom workers may be encouraged to join exports activities with a support policy of the Government. To ensure robust growth of domestic and international business, special trade fairs to be organised by the Government, can also be a part of the budget.

There are about 8.5 crore traders across Country who are generating an annual business of about 80 lakh crores of rupees and providing employment to nearly 40 crore people in the Country.

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Policy & Politics




In an interesting turn of events, we saw just recently on September 23, 2021, the Apex Court in a well-articulated, well-analysed, well-substantiated, well-justified and well-concluded judgment titled National Highways Authority of India & Others vs Madhukar Kumar & Others vs Madhukar Kumar & Others in Civil Appeal No(s). 11141 of 2018 in exercise of its civil appellate jurisdiction set aside a Patna High Court judgment which directed the National Highway Authority of India to shift the toll plaza on Patna-Bakhtiyarpur four-lane road (NH-30) from Karmalichak near Deedarganj. Quite remarkably, the Bench of Apex Court comprising of Justice KM Joseph and Justice S Ravindra Bhat observed forthrightly that, “Undoubtedly, in India, every state action must be fair, failing which, it will fall foul of the mandate of Article 14. It is, at this juncture, we may also notice that the duty to give reasons, would arise even in the case of administrative action, where legal rights are at stake and the administrative action adversely affects legal rights.” Very rightly so!

To start with, this learned, laudable, landmark and latest judgment authored by Justice KM Joseph for a Bench of Apex Court comprising of himself and Justice S Ravindra Bhat sets the ball rolling by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 that, “Respondent Nos. 1 to 17 in this appeal (hereinafter referred to as, ‘the writ petitioners’), filed Writ Petition No. 5643 of 2012. The relief sought in this Writ Petition was to restrain the construction of a toll plaza at 194 km of NH30 in the four-laning of Patna-Bakhtiyarpur section of NH30, in violation of Rule 8 of the National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules, 2008 (hereinafter referred to as, ‘the Rules’, for short). The said Writ Petition was heard along with Writ Petition No. 4526 of 2013, filed by one Shri Ritesh Ranjan Singh @ Bittu Singh. By Judgment dated 22.07.2014, the Writ Petitions were allowed in the following manner by the learned Single Judge:

“32. Thus, on the basis of aforesaid discussions, these writ petitions are allowed and respondents no. 6 and 11 are directed to shift the proposed construction of Toll Plaza at 194 km milestone of Patna-Bakhtiyarpur Section of N.H. 30 from its present location to any other place on new alignment which separates from old N.H. 30 so that the violation of Rule 8 of Rules 2008 could be avoided and the persons who do not have intend to use toll road could be exempted from paying toll tax. The respondent no. 6 should take the decision of shifting the above stated Toll Plaza to any other place as discussed above within six weeks from today and till then respondents shall not collect the toll tax from those persons who do have intend to go through the old N.H. 30 without using the new alignment of toll road. The parties shall bear their own cost.””

Needless to say, the Bench then observes in para 2 that, “The appellants before us, who are NHAI, its Chairman and the General Manager, filed LPA No. 388 of 2015 against Writ Petition No. 5643 of 2012. The said Appeal came to be heard along with LPA No. 236 of 2015, filed by the concessionaire, arising from Judgment in Writ Petition No. 5643 of 2012 and LPA No. 332 of 2015 filed again by the concessionaire against Writ Petition No. 4526 of 2013, and by the impugned Judgment, the Division Bench confirmed the Judgment of the learned Single Judge.”

Most significantly, what forms the cornerstone of this brief, brilliant and balanced judgment is then summed up in para 60 wherein it is postulated that, “We would hold that as noticed by the Bench of three Judges in M/s. Mahabir Jute Mills Ltd., Gorakhpore (supra), there is no general duty, when an administrative decision is taken, to give reasons. A Statute may, however, explicitly provide that the Executive Authority must provide reasons and it must be recorded in writing. A case in point is the first proviso to Rule 8 of the Rules itself. The desirability of a general duty, in the case of administrative action to support decisions with reason, is open to question. One of the most important reason is, the burden it would put on the administration. It is apposite, at this juncture, to notice that administrative decisions are made in a wide spectrum of situations and contexts. The executive power of the Union and States are provided in Articles 73 and 162 of the Constitution of India, respectively. Undoubtedly, in India, every state action must be fair, failing which, it will fall foul of the mandate of Article 14. It is, at this juncture, we may also notice that the duty to give reasons, would arise even in the case of administrative action, where legal rights are at stake and the administrative action adversely affects legal rights. There may be something in the nature or the context, under which, the administrative action is taken, which may necessitate the authority being forthcoming with rational reasons. There are other decisions, which essentially belong more to the realm of executive policy-making, which ordinarily may not require the furnishing of reasons. The advantages, undoubtedly, of introducing a reasons driven regime, are as follows.”

As a corollary, the Bench then observes in para 61 that, “Persons, who may have a right or an interest, would know, what are the reasons which impelled the Administrator to take a particular decision. Judicial review, in India, which encompasses the wide contours of public interest litigation as well, would receive immeasurable assistance, if the reasons for particular decisions, are articulated to the extent possible. The giving of reasons also has a disciplining effect on the Administrator. This is for the reason that the reasons would capture the thought process, which culminated in the decision and it would help the Administrator steer clear of the vices of illegality, irrationality and also disproportionality. Reasons could help establish application of mind. Conversely, the absence of reasons may unerringly point to non-application of mind. The duty to act fairly, may require reasons to be recorded but the said duty, though there is a general duty on all state players to act fairly, may have its underpinnings, ultimately in legal rights.”

Interestingly enough, the Bench then envisages in para 62 that, “It is one thing to say that there should be reasons, which persuaded the Administrator to take a particular decision and a different thing to find that the reasons must be incorporated in a decision. The question, relating to duty to communicate such a decision, would arise to be considered in different situations, having regard to the impact, which it, in law, produces. In fact, the second proviso to Rule 17 of the Rules, provides not only for there being reasons, but the reasons for refusal to permit barricades, must be communicated. If the law provides for a duty to record reasons in writing, undoubtedly, it must be followed and it would amount to the violation of the Statute, if it were not followed. Even if, there is no duty to record reasons or support an order with reasons, there cannot be any doubt that, for every decision, there would be and there must be, a reason. The Constitution does not contemplate any Public Authority, exercising power with caprice or without any rationale. But here again, in the absence of the duty to record reasons, the court is not to be clothed with power to strike down administrative action for the mere reason that no reasons are to be found recorded. In certain situations, the reason for a particular decision, may be gleaned from the pleadings of the Authority, when the matter is tested in a court. From the materials, including the file noting’s, which are made available, the court may conclude that there were reasons and the action was not illegal or arbitrary. From admitted facts, the court may conclude that there was sufficient justification, and the mere absence of reasons, would not be sufficient to invalidate the action of the Public Authority. Thus, reasons may, in certain situations, have to be recorded in the order. In other contexts, it would suffice that the reasons are to be found in the files. The court may, when there is no duty to record reasons, support an administrative decision, with reference to the pleadings aided by materials.”

It is worth noting that the Bench then enunciates in para 82 that, “We have referred to the pleadings. We have also noticed the relevant parts of the DPR. In the Writ Petition, petitioners themselves have pleaded that the road in question is a national highway, and what is more, that it has been constructed merely for the use of the residents of the Patna Municipality Area. In our view, this pleading is fatal to the case of the petitioner that there is violation of the second proviso. As already found by us, the only requirement to locate the toll plaza within the municipal limits, is that a section of the national highway, inter alia, is constructed within the municipal limits and the construction must be primarily for the residents living in the said municipal limits. There is hardly any dispute that the national highway, which means the project road, commences from 181.300 kms from the Patna side and it goes to the east and till 196 kms, it is located within the municipal limits. After 196 kms, it branches of towards the south, which is the new bypass consisting of nearly 36 kms. The total stretch consists of a little over 50 kms. For nearly 14 kms, the road project road passes through the municipal limits.”

Furthermore, the Bench then observes in para 83 that, “The DPR would show that the construction of the project road and other roads, will bring about greater circulation of traffic in the area. In other words, it means that, the project road which begins from 181.300 kms, which was a two-lane road was widened to a fourlane road and the project road ends at 231 kms, where NH30 meets NH31. The Project Report also makes it clear that from km 180 to km 190 of the bypass section, there is a very congested stretch. From km 190 to km 195, it is further stated that there is agricultural land on both sides. Didardanj is located even further to the east, and still further is, Fatua town. Construction of the bypass in that area, was found to be impracticable and it is accordingly that from 196 kms, the new alignment towards the south, was carried out. The Project Report further reveals that the project road is only 50 kilometres long. Only one toll plaza could be provided. In this regard, Rule 8(2) contemplates the distance of 60 kilometres between two toll plazas. The Project Report further reveals that the NHAI Officials were available at the site along with the persons who prepared the DPR, and it is thereafter that this location was quite clearly accepted by the NHAI, as when it entered into the agreement with the Concessionaire, the agreement itself provides for the site of the toll plaza being km 194. It may be true that there may not be any decision which specifically incorporates the view of the NHAI regarding the site. What has apparently happened is, in keeping with the newly introduced Rule (Rule 8 of the 2008 Rules), the NHAI has proceeded to accept the recommendation of the Expert Body to locate the toll plaza at km 194.”

Frankly speaking, the Bench then observes in para 84 that, “We are not unmindful of the fact that counter affidavit of the appellants betrays a certain degree of ambiguity. This is for the reason that, what is pleaded in both the counter affidavits, was that, even if the toll plaza is located within the municipal limits, the second proviso to Rule 8 comes to the rescue of the appellant. This is sought to be exploited by the Writ Petitioners to point out that even appellants were not clearly aware, whether the toll plaza was being located within the municipal limits or not. Writ Petitioners also harp upon the clarity being infused by the counter affidavit filed by the Municipal Council of Patna that the toll plaza was located within the municipal area. We also agree that the matter becomes a little worse, when we read the pleadings of the Concessionaire. In the first counter affidavit, it was contended that the proposed toll plaza at km 194 is much beyond 5 kilometres stipulated in the first proviso. There is also pleading, which indicates that understanding of the Concessionaire was that the construction was for the overall population of the area. However, we must also not ignore that the upgradation was stated to be also aimed at benefitting the local population for the speedy movement from Patna to Bhaktiyarpur and vice-versa. In the second supplementary counter affidavit, it is contended that the four-laning was initiated to reduce the pressure of the local traffic as well and that it is primarily for the benefit of the local residents.”

Be it noted, the Bench then points out in para 85 that, “We are, indeed, troubled by the manner in which the case was approached by the Concessionaire, in particular. However, the appellants definitely set up the case under Rule 8 in both the counter affidavits filed by it. The statement that the second proviso applies, even if the construction is made within the municipal limits, is emphasised by the Writ Petitioners, to show the non-application of minds. We must, in this regard, bear in mind the nature of the lis, as also the rights of the Writ Petitioners. The High Court did not find any Fundamental Rights with the writ petitioners in the matters. The only issue is relating to violation of Rule 8. We have already found that upon the satisfaction of the objective criteria laid down in the second proviso, construction of the toll plaza, as provided therein, is permissible. Apart from the statement of the Writ Petitioners themselves, that the road is a national highway and it is merely for the use of the local residents, the undeniable fact is that, in place of the two-lane road, after a huge investment, it was upgraded to a four-lane road and nearly 14 kilometres of the project road, indisputably, passed through the municipal limits and the most important beneficiary of the said construction, can clearly be stated to be the residents in the municipal area. The project road, did enure chiefly to the residents of the Patna Municipality. The road from 180 to 190 kms was found to be a very congested stretch. The construction of the widened road, undoubtedly, helped mainly the residents of the municipal area. There are other features, apart from widening, including the graded separators. No doubt, it may be true that many persons may be using the said stretch, who may not be residents of the Patna Municipality, would also benefit from the construction, but that cannot detract from requirement of the second proviso being fulfilled, viz., that the construction was primarily for the benefit of the residents of the municipal area. The second proviso does not require that the construction must be solely for the benefit of the residents of the municipal area.”

Simply put, we cannot gloss over that the Bench then hastens to add in para 86 that, “There is another aspect, which we cannot ignore. The construction was completed in accordance with the agreement with the Concessionaire. The Judgment of the Division Bench came to be stayed by this Court and the toll has been collected from the toll plaza. Secondly, the High Court may not be justified in finding that the commercial expediency trumped the law. Commercial expediency is, undoubtedly, a relevant fact. The exact location of the toll plaza is also geared to garner maximum revenue. Concessionaire Agreement lasts for a particular period of time. It is the Concessionaire, who makes the construction, after making the entire investment. The contract contemplates “Design, Build, Finance, Operate and Transfer (the “DBFOT”) under Rule 16 of the Rules, upon the expiry of the agreement, the fee is to be collected by the Central Government or the Executing Authority. Therefore, in such circumstances, any leakage in the toll, would naturally be sought to be avoided. As long as the site of the toll plaza is otherwise supportable, with reference to the second proviso, then, the area of judicial review, in such matters, would be extremely narrow.”

Quite significantly, the Bench then makes it clear in para 94 that, “It is the case of the Writ Petitioners that the decision to locate site of toll plaza at 194 kilometre is arbitrary. Under Article 14 of the Constitution, no State action can pass muster, if it is found to be arbitrary. But, then, a different or even an incorrect decision, would not make an otherwise lawful decision vulnerable to judicial scrutiny. An arbitrary decision would be one which is bereft of any rationale or which is capriciously wrong, and not merely an erroneous view, in the perception of the Court. Any other view would tantamount to substituting its view for that of the Authority. Judged by the said standard, and also the nature of dispute, it cannot be held that toll plaza, having been located at a point where there was sufficient space and which would prevent the leakage of traffic, and also noticing that stretch itself consisted of a little over 50 kilometres, quite clearly, the case based on arbitrariness, is only to be repelled.”

Finally and far most significantly, the Bench then concludes by holding in para 97 that, “The upshot of the above discussion is that we find as follows:

(1) The construction of the toll plaza at 194 kilometre was not illegal or arbitrary;

(2) The direction by the High Court, to shift toll plaza, cannot be upheld and it is liable to be set aside;

(3) The appellants will look at the barricades (closing of service roads) in regard to the toll plaza and permit such barricades only as are permitted in Rule 17 of the Rules. Any unauthorised barricades will be removed without any delay and at any rate within 2 weeks from today.

(4) The First Appellant will issue suitable directions to all Executive Authorities to maintain distinct records containing the decision, invoking the second proviso to Rule 8 of the Rules. Such direction shall be issued within 3 weeks from today.

(5) We direct the appellants as also the Concessionaire to extend the fullest benefits of the concessions under Rule 9 of the Rules.

(6) Resultantly, we allow the Appeal and set aside the impugned Judgment and the direction to shift the toll plaza is set aside.

(7) There shall be no order as to costs.”

To conclude, the upshot of the above discussion of this notable judgment of the Apex Court is that it goes beyond doubt that in India every state action must be fair failing which it will fall foul of the mandate of Article 14 of the Constitution. The Apex Court also made it clear that the duty to give reasons would arise even in the case of administrative action where legal rights are at stake and the administrative action adversely affects legal rights! Thus the decision by the Apex Court to set aside the Patna High Court judgment stands well justified! No denying it!

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Policy & Politics

Is it safe to rely exclusively on ‘extrajudicial’ confession?



Before dwelling upon extra judicial confession, it is incumbent to first of all understand what exactly confession is. It has not been defined anywhere in the Evidence Act. Stephen in his ‘Digest of the Law of Evidence’ (Article 21) defines it as: “A confession is an admission made at any time by a person charged with crime stating or suggesting the inference that he committed that crime.”

According to Wigmore: “A confession is an acknowledgement in express words, by the accused in a criminal case, of the truth of the guilty fact charged or of some essential part of it. It is to this class of statements only that the present principle of exclusion applies.” Blackstone has mocked at confession as “the weakest and most suspicious of all evidence.” Bertrand Russel says in ‘Power’: “In India it is rampant……… For the taming of the power of the police one essential requirement is that a confession shall never in any circumstances be accepted as evidence.”

One can easily discern after going through the definition forwarded by Stephen that the words ‘suggesting the inference that he committed that crime’ fail to convey the real import. It is in this context that to clear the fog and see the true picture , we must also carefully read what was spelt out by Lord Atkin in Pakala Narayana Swami v Emperor, AIR 1939 PC 47 (52). He said that, “… no statement that contains self-exculpatory matter can amount to a confession, if the exculpatory statement is of some fact which if true would negative the offence alleged to be confessed. Moreover, a confession must either admit in terms the offence, or at any rate substantially all the facts which constitute the offence. An admission of a gravely incriminating fact is not of itself a confession, e.g., an admission that the accused is the owner of and was in recent possession of the knife or revolver, which caused a death with no explanation of any other man’s possession is not a confession even though it strongly suggests that the accused has committed the murder. Some confusion appears to have been caused by the definition of confession in Article 21 of the Stephen’s Digest of the Law of Evidence, which defines a confession as an admission made at any-time by a person charged with a crime stating or suggesting the inference that he committed that crime. If the surrounding articles are examined it will be apparent that the learned author, after dealing with admissions generally, is applying himself to admissions in criminal cases, and for this purpose defines confessions so as to cover all such admissions, in order to have a general term for use in the three following articles confession secured by inducement, made upon oath, made under a promise of secrecy. The definition is not contained in the Evidence Act, 1872; and in that Act it would not be consistent with the natural use of language to construe confession as a statement by an accused suggesting the inference that he committed the crime.”

It is imperative to mention here that the Apex Court too has endorsed the landmark ruling of Privy Council which I have just cited in the landmark case of Palvinder Kaur v State of Punjab, AIR 1952 SC 354. Justice Mahajan in this landmark case very elegantly elucidates that, “The confession must either admit in terms the offence or at any rate, substantially all the facts which constitute the offence. The admission of gravely incriminating fact, even conclusively incriminating fact is not by itself a confession. The statement that contains self-exculpatory (self-defending) or other matter cannot amount to a confession, if the exculpatory statement is of the same facts which, if true, would negative the offence alleged to be confessed. The statement which when read as a whole is of exculpatory character and in which the prisoner denies his guilt is not confession, and cannot be used in the evidence to prove his guilt.”

About confession, Phipson states that, “An unambiguous confession is in general sufficient to warrant a conviction without corroboration.” Confession is based on the latin maxim ‘habemus optimum testem, confitentem reum’ which literally means that, “We have the best witness, a confessing defendant.” In other words, it means that the confession of an accused is the best evidence against him.

Having dwelt in detail about what confession is, I must now divulge here what is well known that confession is divided into two classes: Judicial and Extra-judicial. Needless to say, a judicial confession is that which is made before the Magistrate or Court in the due course of legal proceedings. As for instance, a confession which is recorded under Sections 164 and 364 of the CrPC. A confession made to anybody other than a Magistrate or Court or any judicial body does not come within the purview of judicial confession. Let me add here that a confession which is neither made to a Magistrate nor in the course of legal proceedings and is made outside the court or before any person other than a Magistrate is an extra-judicial confession. In other words, confessions made to private persons, to police officers or to judicial officers in their private capacity fall within the realm of extra-judicial confession.

While it is true that a confession made to a Magistrate cannot be an extra-judicial confession but what we must not lose sight of is the fact that under certain circumstances even a confession made to a Magistrate can amount to an extra-judicial confession. As for instance, in R v Gopinath , 13 WR 69, it was held that a confession made before a Magistrate, in his private capacity is an extra-judicial confession. In Emperor v Sidheshwar Nath, (1933) 56 All 730, it was held that a confession made to a Magistrate while in the custody of the police is admissible. In State of Punjab v Harjagdev Singh, AIR 2009 SC 2693, it was held that an extra-judicial confession can be made to or before a private individual. It can also be made before a Magistrate who is not especially empowered to record confessions under Section 164 of CrPC or who receives the confession at a time when Section 164 is not applying. The Court also added that every inducement, threat or promise does not vitiate a confession.

Before proceeding ahead, let me tell you that while I don’t deny that extra-judicial confessions are considered generally as weak evidence but still if found reliable courts can convict an accused based on it and there is nothing wrong with it. There are many such cases where conviction has been given to an accused based on extra-judicial confession. As for instance, it was held in State of UP v MK Anthony , AIR 1985 SC 48 that there is no inflexible rule of law or prudence that an accused cannot be convicted on the basis of an extra-judicial confession without corroboration, though it is considered to be a very weak evidence. It was also held that it can be sufficient to found conviction provided –

1. It comes from the mouth of witnesses who appear to be unbiased and not even remotely inimical to the accused;

2. There is nothing to indicate that the witness may have motive for attributing untruthful statement to the accused;

3. The evidence given by the witness is clear, unambiguous and unmistakably conveys that the accused committed the crime;

4. Nothing is omitted by the witness which may suggest different conclusion; and

5. The evidence passes the rigorous test of credibility.

In Piara Singh v State of Punjab, AIR 1977 SC 2274, the Supreme Court while convicting the appellants on the basis of extra-judicial confession and underlining its importance held that, “The learned Sessions Judge regarded the extra-judicial confession to be very weak type of evidence and therefore refused to rely on the same. Here the learned Sessions Judge committed a clear error of law. Law does not require that the evidence of an extra-judicial confession should in all cases be corroborated. In the instant case, the extra-judicial confession was proved by an independent witness (Sarpanch) who was a responsible officer and who bore no animus against the appellants. There was hardly any justification, for the Sessions Judge to disbelieve the evidence of the Sarpanch particularly when the confession was corroborated by the recovery of an empty cartridge from the place of occurrence.” In State of AP v Gangula Satya Murthy, AIR 1997 SC 1585, the Supreme Court held that minor discrepancies should be ignored in appreciating the evidentiary value of extra-judicial confession. In this case, the record showed a discrepancy as to the time of confession when the words were spoken and the time appearing in police records . The Court said that this should have been ignored. There could have been an error in recording a.m. for p.m. The Court also said that at any rate it was not proper to jettison an otherwise sturdy piece of evidence of an extra-judicial confession on such a rickety premise.

Be it noted, in the famous Nanavati case, a statement made by the accused Nanavati to the Chowkidar of the building immediately after the shooting when he saw his wife in objectionable state with another man, was held to be an extra-judicial confession and treated as a direct piece of evidence of the guilt of the accused. In Ratan Gond v State of Bihar, AIR 1959 SC 18, the Supreme Court accepted the extra-judicial confession made by the accused in the house of the Mukhia of the village before some villagers. Similarly, in Sivakumar v State by Inspector of Police, (2006) 1 SCC 714 (723) (para 41), the Apex Court accepted the extra-judicial confession made before a village headman.

While craving my readers indulgence, let me further mention here that the principles which would make an extra-judicial confession an admissible piece of evidence quite capable of forming the basis of conviction of an accused have been well highlighted by Supreme Court in Sahadevan v State of TN, (2012) 6 SCC 403, in which it has been pointed out that –

1. The extra-judicial confession is a weak evidence by itself. It has to be examined by the court with greater care and caution.

2. It should be made voluntarily and should be truthful.

3. It should inspire confidence.

4. An extra-judicial confession attains greater credibility and evidentiary value if it is supported by a chain of cogent circumstances and is further corroborated by other prosecution evidence.

5. For an extra-judicial confession to be the basis of conviction, it should not suffer from any material discrepancies and inherent improbabilities.

6. Such statement essentially has to be proved like any other fact and in accordance with law.

For my esteemed readers exclusive benefit, let me tell them that the Supreme Court has in many cases acquitted the accused whenever it found that the extra-judicial confession was not reliable or was weak or there was no corroboration or on any other ground which it considered as relevant for acquitting the accused. I will discuss some of them here of which I am aware and which I would like to also share with my readers. In Keshav v State of Maharashtra, (2007) 13 SCC 284(287) (para 9), it was alleged that the accused made confession to the wife of the deceased, who neither disclosed it to anyone nor lodged an FIR in that respect. The Apex Court held that the said extra-judicial confession was not reliable. In Polyami Sukada v State of MP, AIR 2010 SC 2977, it was held that the witnesses of confession did not inspire confidence. Their evidence was slippery. It was also held that conviction was not proper even if there was recovery of weapon on the basis of confession. But at the same time, the Apex Court also held that an extra-judicial confession need not be corroborated in all cases and conviction can be based solely on such confession. In Pakkirisamy v State of TN, AIR 1998 SC 107, it was held by Supreme Court that the extra-judicial confession of an accused cannot be taken into consideration in determining his guilt when it is not put to him in his examination under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

It is worth noting that in Jagta v State of Haryana, AIR 1974 SC 1545, the Apex Court held that, “An extra-judicial confession is, in the very nature of things a weak piece of evidence. There should be no difficulty in rejecting it if it lacks in probability.” In State of Karnataka v AB Nagaraj, AIR 2003 SC 666, it was alleged that the girl was killed by her father and step-mother in the national park. The confession was supposed to have been made during detention in the ‘Forest Office’ and there was no witness present. The evidence of extra-judicial confession was rejected. In Baldev Singh v State of Punjab, (2009) 6 SCC 564, the Apex Court held that the evidence of extra-judicial confession is generally of a weak nature. It was also held that no conviction ordinarily can be based solely thereupon unless the same is corroborated in material particulars and extra-judicial confession must be found to be reliable.

As pointed above, it is one of the most fundamental canon of criminal justice system that an extra-judicial confession to be reliable must be voluntary. Lord Parker, C.J., in Reg. v Smith, (1959) 2 Q.B. 35 at p. 39 held that, “It has always been the fundamental principle of the courts that a prisoner’s confession outside the court is only admissible if it is voluntary. In deciding whether an admission is voluntary the court had been at pain to hold that even the most gentle threats or slight inducements will taint a confession.” In State of Haryana v Jagbir Singh, 2003 (4) RCR (Criminal) SC 555, it was held by the Supreme Court that in order to make an extra-judicial confession reliable it must be shown that it was voluntarily made. Apart from the extra-judicial confession being voluntary, there are many other factors that needs to be taken into account to determine its genuineness. For example, it was held in Chattar Singh v State of Haryana, AIR 2009 SC 378, it was held by the Supreme Court that, “Whether the accused was a freeman when he confessed , one of the relevant factors. The value of the confession is determined by the veracity of the person to whom the confession is made and who appears to testify to it.” In Vinayak Shivajirao Pol v State of Maharashtra, AIR 1998 SC 1096 , confession of a military sepoy to his superior’s as to how he killed his wife and disposed off the dismembered parts of the body substantiated by recoveries, held to be capable of supporting conviction for murder without more.

It also must be brought out here that the extra-judicial confession may be either in writing or in oral as both of them are valid. Now when it comes to written confession the writing itself will be the best evidence but in case it is lost or is not available, then under such circumstances, the person before whom the confession was made can certainly be produced before the Court to depose that the accused made the statement before him.

It is imperative that before accepting extra-judicial confession on the basis of testimony of witness, the credentials of witness must be ascertained and examined properly. If witnesses are not reliable, it is not safe to rely on the extra-judicial confession made by the accused to them and on that basis alone convict the accused without any other evidence or independent corroboration. It is also imperative that the words used by those witnesses must be thoroughly examined before relying on them. In Heramba Brahma v State of Assam, AIR 1982 SC 1595, where a confession was made by an accused person to under trial prisoners who were awaiting trial for a heinous crime like dacoity which itself indicates that they were criminals and the High Court straightaway accepted their evidence without resorting to examining in minute detail the credentials of witness and without ascertaining in any manner the words used, the Supreme Court held that the evidence of extra-judicial confession was unworthy of belief and therefore liable to be rejected.

Now coming to another moot question: “Does delay in recording evidence in any manner affect the authenticity of extra-judicial confession?” Delay in recording evidence certainly affects the credibility and authenticity of extra-judicial confession if it is not properly explained but if it is properly and satisfactorily examined then it does not make any difference and conviction can still be based on extra-judicial confession. In this regard, it would be pertinent to discuss what happened in Ram Khilari’s case. In Ram Khilari v State of Rajasthan, AIR 1999 SC 1002, the appellant was convicted under Section 302, IPC on the basis of extra-judicial confession made by him to one Ram Kishan , who was father-in-law of his sister. His conviction was rightly upheld by the Apex Court as there was just no reason to disbelieve the statement of Ram Kishan. It was held to be quite probable that the appellant might have thought that he could get shelter in Ram Kishan’s house and therefore informed him what happened. The delay of 20 days in recording evidence was satisfactorily explained by the investigation and therefore no interference was warranted in his conviction on the basis of extra-judicial confession.

It must be underscored that any Court before basing a conviction on extra-judicial confession alone must be very careful when it comes to the words used by the accused while interacting with the witnesses and must make ensure that fabrications, concoctions and exaggerations don’t creep in any manner as that can push an innocent accused to conviction which would certainly tantamount to a great travesty of justice. In Mulk Raj v State of UP, AIR 1959 SC 902, it was held by Supreme Court that though court will require the witness to give the actual words used by the accused, yet it is not an invariable rule that the court should not accept the evidence if actual words are not given. Macaulay in his ‘History of England’, Vol 1 on page 283 very rightly points out that, “Words may easily be misunderstood by an honest man. They may easily be misconstrued by a knave. What was spoken metaphorically may be apprehended literally. What was spoken ludicrously may be apprehended seriously. A participle, a tense, a mood, an emphasis may make the whole difference between guilt and innocence.” Therefore, it merits no reiteration that wordings make a huge difference and it is the bounden duty of all courts concerned to fully understand in which sense the words have been used before basing any conviction on the basis of extra-judicial confession alone! It also must be borne in mind that many times a witness acts in good faith but there is unintended tricks of memory due to which there is misinterpretation and because of which an innocent accused can wrongly be convicted on the basis of extra-judicial confession alone which at all cost must be prevented by all concerned courts as that would result in a grave miscarriage of justice! At the same time all courts must bear in mind what the Supreme Court held in Narayan Singh v State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 1985 SC 1678 that, “It is not open to any Court to start with a presumption that extra-judicial confession is a weak type of evidence. It would depend on the nature of the circumstances, the time when the confession was made and the credibility of the witness who speaks to such a confession.” A balance thus has to be struck before a conviction or acquittal is recorded in such cases!

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Policy & Politics

Rewiring Brain: Neuroplasticity 

Researches reveal that learning any new language enhances brain’s functioning with respect to memory, attention, emotions, creative thinking skills and ability to multitask as it works on the grey as well as the white matter of the brain.




Until recently it was believed that our brains are hard-wired, just like computer or any other such equipment thus can never undergo changes and one has to remain with the type of brain he is born with. But researches show that the brain has the power to change itself. This idea of changes in brain’s function as well structure is termed as neuroplasticity. Earlier the Neuroscientists hold that neuroplasticity manifests in childhood only the research done in later half of the 20th century revealed that several aspects of brain can undergo alterations even in the adulthood. Moreover neuroplasticity insists don’t hold your brain as your in charge on contrary consider yourself as the in charge of your brain.

Rewiring your brain might sound complicated, but this is something very easy that can be done at home. Yes so here are some ways that would certainly help you to change the entire scene-

Play games- Yes, playing games is beneficial. Different games yield different benefits. Such as puzzle games improves brain connectivity, boosts problem solving while 3D adventurous games tends to improve memory, problem solving and scene recognition. Rhythm games like dance can help to improve the visuospatial memory as well as attention of the individual. Thus playing games can do miracles. Point to keep in mind that these effects emerge after about 16 hours of gameplay. But that shouldn’t be played at once.

Learning new Language- Researches reveal that learning any new language enhances brain’s functioning with respect to memory, attention, emotions, creative thinking skills and ability to multitask as it works on the grey as well as the white matter of the brain.

Music Therapy- A research from 2017 shows that music when combined with dance, gaming, exercise etc. helps in improving neuroplasticity. People associated with music have better focus and attention, better motor coordination and better visual perception.

Travel- if you enjoy traveling then there is one more reason to love traveling. It enhances cognitive flexibility, nourishes creativity and broadens world general view.

Enjoy relaxing moments- Take a break from work and give some time to brain for rest. This rest improves the creativity, helps to find out new solutions to the prevailing problems.

Meditation- Meditational practices strengthens the neural connections. Regular practice leads to good brain health, sustained focus and slackening mental stress. Calm brains have the power to hold overwhelming emotions and guards individual against unproductive worries.

Video Games- Playing video games undoubtedly harms our eyes and is being criticized for few problems associated to it but still it has various cognitive benefits such as motor coordination, spatial navigation, decision making, reasoning and resilience.


Psychologists as well as other experts use to stress that no changes are expected in brain after a certain point of age. But now this view has been discarded. As they now know that all this is possible at any point of age in entire lifespan.

All that one requires is just some time, dedication and patience. All the suggested activities may look quite simple but have huge impact.

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Policy & Politics

Marriage can be registered through video conference: Special Marriage Act

The court also batted for a common marriage law so as to shift everything online to make registration of marriage and divorce easier in tune with evolving technology.



With the technological advancement, marriages can be registered under Special Marriage Act (SMA) 1954 through video conferencing said by Kerala High Court (Dhanya Martin V State of Kerala).

The observation was given by the two judges bench (Divisionbench) comprises of Justices A. Muhamed Mustaque and Kauser Edappagath. The observation was given while hearing the sets of petitions filed by person looking to solemnize their marriages under the Special Marriage Act through video conferencing.

The cases were referred by the single judge bench before the Division bench on 25th August, 2021. The Court held that it was only concern the way of identification of parties for the online registration of marriage and it is inclined to allow the matter. There is no difficulty to hold that in the era of technological advancement, marriage can also be registered without physical presence of the parties before the marriage officer. Therefore, marriage officer must be in a position to identify the parties through online video conference. The way to conduct such type of identification online has to be discussed.

The Court added that the parties have recommended two methods of identification. First method is the physical presence of the parties before the commission; if they are living abroad. Second method is the modern gadgets for identifying the parties with reference to facial recognition and biometric identifications.


The Court also informed the R Suvin Menon; Assistant Solicitor General (ASG) that it would needed the Union Government help in framing a mechanism that would permit usage of modern data and technology for this purpose. The ASG raised the concerns regarding the misuse of data and limitations on usage of facial recognition even in criminal prosecutions, the Court states that such concerned can be addressed but positive purposes for technology must be encouraged.

The Court said that the technology must have some restrictions against a person, but also can be used for the interest of individual. We can maximise the positive aspects and limits the negative one. The Court high lightened the importance of ease of setting up of uniform marriage law for the online registration and divorce.

The Bench said that court should switch everything online. This is the only reason for the requirement of common marriage law. Every marriage should be compulsory registered either private or personal. The marriage should be covered under the public law. In the modern technology, people can’t still bank on the physical method of marriage registration.

Public Prosecutor appearing for the Kerala government Gopi Nathan opposed and said that there is no provision under Special Marriage Act to register marriages before solemnisation before a marriage officer. In view of the Information Technology Act, no such type of provision is needed said by the Court. The provisions of the IT Act, especially Sections 4, 5 and 6, are read into all relevant present statutes.


In the case of State of Maharashtra V Paful B Desai, the Supreme Court held that evidence could now be recorded by means of video conferencing. It means that victim or witness can reported their statement through online video conferencing.

The Bench said that court should switch everything online. This is the only reason for the requirement of common marriage law. Every marriage should be compulsory registered either private or personal. The marriage should be covered under the public law. In the modern technology, people can’t still bank on the physical method of marriage registration.

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Policy & Politics

All-time high exports of engineering goods in August suggest pandemic may be behind us: EEPC India chairman

Tarun Nangia



Reflecting strong demand from its key markets, engineering goods exports to 24 out of 25 top nations recorded positive growth in August, 2021 blowing past its previous monthly record of US$ 9.13 billion in July.

Unlike the previous months, exports to China registered the second largest export destination witnessing positive monthly growth in August 2021. Shipments to China rose 15% in August to reach US$ 613.3 million as compared to US$ 531.3 million in the same month last year.

Malaysia was the only country which saw a negative trend in import of engineering goods from India.

The US continued to be on top of the chart with August import of engineering goods from India growing 42% to US$ 1.3 billion as compared to US$ 916.5 million in the same month last year.

All the European countries for India’s top 25 engineering export destinations – Italy, Germany, Turkey, Belgium, UK, Poland, Spain and France recorded high positive growth during August as well as on a cumulative basis this fiscal.

The share of India’s engineering exports to its top 25 nations accounted for 76.8% of India’s total engineering exports in April-August 2021. This significant high share is indicative of the dependence of India’s engineering export on the traditional markets.

India’s engineering exports was at its all-time monthly high for the second straight month in August. The robust performance of the sector resulted in the share of engineering goods in total merchandise exports during the previous month rising significantly.

Share of engineering in total merchandise export was 27.68% in August 2021 as against 25.82% in July, 27.19% in June, 25.44% in May, 24.83% in April 2021 and 25.36 percent in March 2021.

“In the month of August, engineering goods exports recorded more than 40% growth even when compared with the same month in 2019. It now seems that the pandemic is behind us. We are positively hopeful that as a result of a turnaround in global trade and policy support the sector would do better than expected in the full financial year,” said EEPC India Chairman Mr Mahesh Desai.

“The annual target of US$ 107 billion looks very doable even though the achievement till August fell a bit short of the target when calculated on a pro-rata basis,” he said.

During April-August period of 2021-22, India’s engineering exports have fallen short of the target set by about US$ 1.82 billion calculated on a pro-rata basis achieving 40% of the target against 42% of desired level for the full year.

Engineering exports crossed US$ 9 billion mark consecutively for the second time after the month of July, reaching an all-time high of US$ 9.21 billion in August.

Cumulative engineering exports during April-August 2021-22 stood at US$ 42.91 billion registering 66.18% growth over the shipments of April-August 2020-21 at US$ 25.82 billion.

Out of 33 engineering panels or product groups, 29 panels witnessed positive growth in exports and remaining four panels witnessed negative export growth during August 2021 vis-à-vis August 2020.

Exports of iron and steel recorded a continuous growth to the extent of 142% in August 2021 compared to the same period last year. In case of non-ferrous metals, sectors like Zinc and products exhibited negative growth in exports to the extent of 26% during the month of August 2021 vis-a-vis August 2020. All the remaining segments showed positive growth.

All the seven panels under Industrial machinery exhibited positive growth in August 2021 which led the total industrial machinery panel increase by 39% during August 2021.

Electrical Machinery and equipment which is a major engineering exporting sector for India experienced a growth in exports both monthly and on cumulative basis increasing to the extent of 26.8% from US$ 692.9 million in August 2020 to US$ 878.4 million in August 2021.

The automobile sector (combination of Two and Three wheelers and Motor vehicles and Cars) recorded consecutive massive jumps in exports to the extent of 57.5% primarily due to sharp jump in exports of Two and Three Wheelers by 72.4% and Motor Vehicles by 52.5% during August 2021.

Exports of Aircrafts and Spacecraft parts and products recorded 12.8% negative monthly growth while ‘Ship, Boats and Floating Bodies’ exhibited a monthly decline of 21.7%.

“The government has relentlessly supported the industry and we hope that the two key issues of high raw material prices and container shortage would also be looked into. The industry is awaiting proper rates under RoDTEP,” said EEPC India Chairman.

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Policy & Politics

Centre provides a massive relief to the exporters

The government releases Rs 56,027 crore under various Export Promotion Schemes.

Tarun Nangia



The Government of India has decided to budget Rs 56,027 crore in this Financial Year FY 21-22 itself in order to disburse all pending export incentives due to exporters. This amount includes claims relating to MEIS, SEIS, RoSL, RoSCTL, other scrip based schemes relating to earlier policies and the remission support for RoDTEP and RoSCTL for exports made in the 4th quarter of FY 20-21. Benefits would be disbursed to more than 45,000 exporters, out of which about 98% are small exporters in the MSME category.

The amount of Rs 56,027 crores of arrears is for different export promotion and remission schemes: MEIS (Rs 33,010 crore), SEIS (Rs 10,002 crore), RoSCTL (Rs 5,286 cr), RoSL (Rs 330 crore), RoDTEP(Rs 2,568 crore), other legacy Schemes like Target Plus etc (Rs 4,831 crore). This amount is over and above duty remission amount of Rs 12,454 crore for the RoDTEP scheme and Rs 6,946 crore for RoSCTLscheme already announced for exports made in this year i.e. FY 2021-22.

Exports in India have seen robust growth in recent months. Merchandise exports for April-August, 2021 was nearly $164 billion, which is an increase of 67% over 2020-21 and 23% over 2019-20. This decision to clear all pending export incentives within this financial year, will lead to even more rapid export growth in coming months.

For merchandise exports, all sectors covered under MEIS, such as Pharmaceuticals, Iron and steel, Engineering, Chemicals, Fisheries, Agriculture and allied Sectors, Auto and Auto Components would be able to claim benefits for exports made in earlier years. Benefits would help such sectors to maintain cash flows and meet export demand in international market, which is recovering fast this financial year.

Service sector exporters, including those in the travel, tourism and hospitality segments will be able to claim SEIS benefits for FY 2019-2020, for which Rs 2,061 crore has been provisioned. The SEIS for FY 2019-20 with certain revisions in service categories and rates is being notified. This support would have a multiplier effect and spur employment generation.

The apparel sector, which is a major labour-intensive sector, would get past arrears under ROSCTL and ROSL, and all stakeholders in the interconnected supply chains would be strengthened to meet the festive season demand in international markets.

Export claims relating to earlier years will need to be filed by the exporters by 31st December 2021 beyond which they will become time barred. The Online IT portal will be enabled shortly to accept MEIS and other scrip based applications and would be integrated with a robust mechanism set up by Ministry of Finance to monitor provisioning and disbursement of the export incentives under a budgetary framework.

A decision to clear all pending export incentives within this Financial Year itself despite other budgetary commitments arising out of the pandemic is with the objective of providing timely and crucial support to this vital pillar of Indian economy.


Welcoming the government’s decision of budgeting an amount of Rs 56,027 crores to disburse all pending export incentives due to exporters as claims related to different export promotion and remission schemes including MEIS, SEIS, RoSL, RoSCTL, other scrip-based schemes relating to earlier policies and the remission support for RoDTEP and RoSCTL for exports made in the 4th quarter of FY 20-21, FIEO President, Dr A Sakthivel said that such a move will help the sector in meeting the liquidity concerns and maintaining cash flow of the exports sector thereby further facilitating in addressing the export demand in the international market.

Benefits to be disbursed to over 45,000 exporters, specially those from the MSME sector has come as a booster dose for them as it would help them to be able to complete their booked order more efficiently, said Dr Sakthivel. Thanking the Hon’ble Prime Minister, the Union Commerce & Industry and Textiles Minister and the Union Finance Minister, President, FIEO added that the decision will lead to an even more rapid growth in exports in coming months.

FIEO Chief said that support to Service sector exporters, including those in the travel, tourism and hospitality segments, with certain revisions in service categories and rates being notified will not only have a multiplier effect but will also help in employment generation. Incentivising major labour-intensive sectors and all the stakeholders including those from the supply chain will help in strengthening their endeavours to meet the festive season demand in the international market.

Such support and handholding to the sector during these challenging times, when the whole exporting community is showing their commitment and resilience to perform impressively has definitely given a boost to the government vision of achieving USD 400 billion exports for the fiscal. Dr Sakthivel said that these announcements has further infused confidence in exporters that the Government is working hand in hand with exporters as promised by our Hon’ble Prime Minister.

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