01 April 2020
Supreme Court


Case number: Crl.A. No.-001120-001120 / 2010
Diary number: 2418 / 2010
Advocates: RAKESH K. SHARMA Vs












1. This criminal  appeal filed under Section 19 of the Terrorist

and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 (in short ‘the TADA

Act’) is directed against the judgment and order dated 04.12.2009

passed by the Presiding Judge, Designated Court No.2, Chennai, in

Calendar Case No.1/2007, whereby the Designated Court has

convicted the appellant  and sentenced him to undergo   rigorous

imprisonment for  2  years  under Section 120­B  IPC and 5 years

each under Section 120­B IPC read with Section 3(3) and 4(1) of the



TADA Act  and  under  Section  120­B  IPC  read  with  Section  5  of

Explosive Substances Act, 1908 and all the sentences imposed were

ordered to be run concurrently.   

2. The case of the prosecution in brief is that during June 1988,

the absconding accused, Ilango @ Kumaran @ Ravi @ Santhosh and

Suku @ Sukumaran @ Kumar, had formed an organization at

Trichy under the name ‘Tamilar Pasarai’, with the object of

achieving separate Statehood for Tamil Nadu and to blast Central

and State Government buildings with bombs with a view to overawe

the Government established by law. The appellant herein and 13

other  accused have  enrolled themselves in the  said  organization

and they entered into a criminal conspiracy during June 1988 to

commit an illegal act and to blast the State Government building in

the Secretariat by name ‘Namakkal Kavignar Maligai’ and in

furtherance of the said conspiracy, Suku and Shanmuga Sundaram

had undergone  a  course in  electronics  at  Tamil  Nadu Advanced

Technical Institute, Trichy, and learnt the mechanism for devising

electronic timer, to be used in the time bombs to be manufactured

by them.



3. The further case of the prosecution is that during September

1990, the above said Suku had brought electronic printed circuit

board, integrated circuit switches, resisters and directed Shanmuga

Sundram to device electronic timer device, to be attached to time

bomb. The appellant, along with two other accused, wrote slogans

in the paper (MO­7) hailing ‘Tamilar Pasarai’ and kept it near the

time bomb on 22.09.1990. The bomb was to be blasted by another

accused, namely, Sukku, in a jerrycan (MO­1) containing explosives

with timer devices (MO­6), near Namakkal Kavignar Maligai on

22.09.1990. The bomb was noticed before  its  explosion at about

6.45 a.m. by the Head Constable, G.M. Rajendran (PW­1), attached

to Armed Reserves, Madras, and the said bomb was subsequently

defused. Thereafter, information was given by PW­1 to the Assistant

Commissioner, in­charge  of the  Fort  Police  Station,  who handed

over the  investigation to Parthasarathy  (PW­21), the then D.S.P.,

who registered the case initially under Section 4 of the Explosive

Substances Act,  1908 and under Sections 2­F(d)(1)  and  (2) read

with Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities  (Prevention) Act, 1967.

Subsequently, during the course of investigation, the charges were



altered  against the  accused  under  Section  120­B IPC read  with

Sections  3(3)  and 4(1)  of  TADA Act  and under  Section 5  of the

Explosive Substance Act, 1908.

4. On 24.09.1990, the  place  of incident  was searched  by the

bomb disposal squad and the seized items were sent for finger print

examination.  A request was also made to the Chief Controller of

Explosives for examining the explosive substance.  

5. The statements of witnesses were recorded in respect of the

aforesaid offences on the basis of the information received during

investigation. The Inspector of Police C.B.C.I.D., Thanjavore, raided

the premises of one Abdul Kalam and handed over his custody to

Inspector Raman of ‘Q’ Branch.  

6. On 10.05.1993, PW­26, the then  Superintendent of Police,

SBCID, received the case file pertaining to Cr. No.1 GO/90, Fort

Station, Chennai.   Thereafter, he sent the requisition for the

extension of remand of the accused Sathish @ Vadivelu and Abdul

Kalam, on 04.06.1993 and 14.07.1993 respectively. He gave

requisition to the  competent  authority for sanction to  prosecute

Abdul Kalam and Vadivelu and obtained the sanction orders. On



receiving the statement of the accused, Chandran, he obtained

sanction for prosecution of Chandran under the TADA Act on


7. After completion of the investigation, the police on 03.09.1993,

filed the charge­sheet against the accused Nos.  1 to 14 and the

unknown accused, under Section 120­B read with Section 3(3), (4)

(1) of the TADA Act and Section 5 of the Explosive Substance Act

and Section 7 read with Section 35(1)(A), Section 3 read with

Section 25(1)(B) of the Arms Act. Thereafter, the statements of the

witnesses were recorded by the Special Judge in the aforesaid case.

8. It was the further case of the prosecution that on 24.05.2007,

PW­28,  Superintendent of  Police,  Ashok Kumar, ‘Q’  Branch, CID

Head Quarters,  Chennai, came  to  know about the  arrest  of the

appellant­accused by the DSP ‘Q’ Branch Tanjavore, in connection

with the Mannarkudi P.S. Cr. No.954/94 and as the appellant was

involved in the subject case, the investigating officer was informed

to take necessary steps for the same. Accordingly, PW­26 took steps

for the police custody of the appellant from 25.07.2007 to

27.07.2007.   During the police custody, the appellant voluntarily



wished to give  his confessional statement and as such  he  was

produced before PW­28, Superintendent of  Police,  on 26.07.2007

with a requisition, Ex. P­55 by PW­27. On 27.07.2007, PW­28

recorded the confession of  the accused, observing the  formalities

under Section 15 of the TADA Act, as Ex. P­56 and P­57. PW­28

made an appendix as per the said provision and the appellant was

handed over to the DSP to be produced before the Court. All the

proceedings were sent in a sealed cover to the Chief Metropolitan

Magistrate through special messenger on 27.07.2007.   

9. Thereafter, the charges  were framed against the appellant,

read over and explained to him. However,  while questioning,  the

appellant denied the charges.   The prosecution examined as many

as 28 witnesses to prove the case against the accused. The

appellant was examined under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal

Procedure, 1973.   The appellant was permitted to be examined as

DW­1. He filed the documents Ex. DW­1 to DW­7. As stated earlier,

the Designated Court has convicted the appellant in the aforesaid




10. Shri S. Nagamuthu, learned senior counsel appearing for the

appellant, has submitted that the Designated Court has relied on

the confession (Ex. P­57) of the appellant for his conviction. PW­28

who recorded the alleged confession, had not scrupulously followed

the guidelines laid by this Court in  Kartar Singh  v.  State of

Punjab1. The confession had not been recorded in a free

atmosphere. The prescribed procedure under the TADA Act and the

rules made thereunder had not been followed while recording the

confession.   It  was  also submitted that the confession  was  not

admissible in evidence as it was not voluntary. In this connection,

he has taken us through the oral evidence of the parties. It was

further  submitted  that the  accused had retracted the confession

subsequently. Therefore, even if the confession is admissible, it is a

weak piece of evidence and the same cannot be the sole evidence for

conviction in the absence of corroboration from independent

sources.   It was also submitted that the confession of the co­

accused (Ex. P­26 and P­27) are not admissible in evidence because

there was no joint trial of those two accused with the appellant. The

1  1994 (3) SCC 569



confession of the co­accused is not substantive piece of evidence.

The proviso to Section 15(1) of the TADA Act, introduced by

amending the said section in the year 1993 which, in fact,

supplements Section 30 of the Evidence Act, mandates that there

should be a joint trial. Therefore, he submits that the conviction of

the appellant by the Designated Court is unsustainable in law.

11. On the other hand, Shri Jayant Muth Raj, learned Additional

Advocate General, appearing for the respondent­State, has

supported the impugned judgment of the Designated Court.

12. We have carefully considered the submissions of the learned

senior counsel made at the Bar and perused the materials placed

on record.

13. The Designated Court has convicted the appellant on the basis

of the confession of the appellant made on 27.02.2007 (Ex. P­57)

and the confession statement of the two other co­accused (Ex. P­26

and P­27).

14. Therefore, the first question for consideration is whether the

appellant has made the confession (Ex. P­57) voluntarily and




15. The law of confession is embodied in Sections 24 to 30 of the

Indian Evidence Act, 1872. The confession is a form of admission

consisting of direct acknowledgment of guilt in a criminal charge. In

this  connection, it is relevant  to notice  the observations of  Privy

Council in Pakala Narayana Swami v. Emperor2 which is as under:

“…..a confession must either  admit in terms of  an offence, or at any rate substantially all the fact which constitute the offence. An admission of a gravely incriminating fact, even a conclusively incriminating fact is not by itself a confession….”

16. It is well­settled that a confession which is not free from doubt

about its voluntariness, is not admissible in evidence. A confession

caused by inducement, threat or promise cannot be termed as

voluntary confession.   Whether a confession is voluntary or not is

essentially a question of fact.   In  State (NCT of Delhi)  v.  Navjot

Sandhu3  this Court has elaborately considered this aspect as


“29.  Confessions are considered highly reliable because no rational  person would make admission against his interest unless prompted by his

2  1939 PC 47

3  (2005) 11 SCC 600



conscience to tell the truth. “Deliberate and voluntary confessions of guilt, if clearly proved are among the most effectual proofs in law.” (Vide  Taylor’s Treatise on the Law of Evidence, Vol. I.) However, before acting upon a confession the court must be satisfied that it was freely and voluntarily made. A confession by hope or promise of advantage, reward or immunity or by force or by fear induced by violence or threats of violence cannot constitute evidence against the maker of the confession. The confession should have been  made  with full knowledge of the  nature and consequences of the confession. If any reasonable doubt is entertained by the court that these ingredients are not satisfied, the court should eschew the confession from consideration. So also the authority recording the confession, be it a Magistrate or some other statutory functionary at the pre­trial stage, must address himself to the issue whether the accused has come forward to make the confession in an atmosphere free from fear, duress or hope of some advantage or reward induced by the persons in authority. Recognising the stark reality of the accused being enveloped in a state of fear and panic, anxiety and despair while in police custody, the Evidence Act has excluded the admissibility of a confession made to the police officer.”

17. Section 15(1) of the TADA Act is a self­contained scheme for

recording the  confession of  an  accused  charged  with  an offence

under the said Act. This provision of law is a departure from the

provisions of Sections 25 to 30 of the Evidence Act. Section 15 of

the TADA Act operates independently of the Evidence Act and the



Criminal Procedure Code. In  Kartar Singh  (supra) a Constitution

Bench of this Court while upholding the validity of the said

provision has issued certain guidelines to be followed while

recording confession.  These guidelines have been issued to ensure

that the confession obtained in the pre­indictment interrogation by

a police officer not lower in rank than a Superintendent of Police is

not tainted with any vice but is in strict conformity with the well­

recognised and accepted aesthetic principles and fundamental

fairness. These guidelines are:

“(1) The confession should be recorded in a free atmosphere in the same language in which the person is examined and as narrated by him;

(2) The  person from whom a  confession  has  been recorded under Section 15(1) of  the Act,  should be produced before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate or the Chief Judicial Magistrate to whom the confession is required to be sent under Rule 15(5) along with the original statement of confession, written or recorded on mechanical device without unreasonable delay;

(3) The  Chief  Metropolitan  Magistrate  or the  Chief Judicial  Magistrate  should scrupulously record  the statement, if any, made by the accused so produced and get his signature and in case of any complaint of torture, the person should be directed to be produced for medical examination before a Medical Officer not lower in rank than of an Assistant Civil Surgeon;



(4) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, no police officer below the rank of an Assistant Commissioner of Police in the  Metropolitan cities and elsewhere of a  Deputy Superintendent of Police or a police officer of equivalent rank, should investigate any offence punishable under this Act of 1987.

This is necessary in view of the drastic provisions of this Act. More so when the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 under Section 17 and the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1956 under Section 13, authorise only a police officer of a specified rank to investigate the offences under those specified Acts.

(5) The police officer if he is seeking the custody of any person for pre­indictment or pre­trial interrogation from the judicial custody, must file an affidavit sworn by him explaining the reason not only for  such custody but also for the  delay, if  any, in seeking the police custody;

(6) In case, the  person, taken for interrogation,  on receipt of the statutory warning that he is not bound to make a confession and that if he does so, the said statement may be used against him as evidence, asserts  his  right to  silence, the  police  officer  must respect his right of assertion  without  making any compulsion to give a statement of disclosure.”

18. In Jameel Ahmad v. State of Rajasthan4 this Court has held

that when an accused charged with an offence under the provisions

of the TADA Act, is voluntarily willing to make a confessional 4  (2003) 9 SCC 673



statement and if such statement is made and recorded by an officer

not below the rank of Superintendent of Police in a manner

provided  in  that  section, is  admissible in  evidence.  The  findings

recorded in this case are as under:     

“35.  To sum up our findings in regard to the legal arguments addressed in these appeals, we find:

(i) If the confessional statement is properly recorded, satisfying the mandatory provision of Section 15 of the TADA Act and the Rules made thereunder, and if the same is found by the court as having been made voluntarily and truthfully then the said confession is sufficient to base a conviction on the maker of the confession.

(ii)  Whether  such confession requires corroboration or  not, is  a  matter for the  court considering  such confession on facts of each case.

(iii) In regard to the use of such confession as against a co­accused, it has to be held that as a matter of caution, a general corroboration should be sought for but in cases  where the court is satisfied that the probative value of such confession is such that it does  not require  corroboration  then  it  may base  a conviction on the basis of such confession of the co­ accused without corroboration. But this is an exception to the general rule of requiring corroboration  when such confession is to  be  used against a co­accused.



(iv) The nature of corroboration required both in regard to the use of confession against the maker as also in regard to the use of the same against a co­ accused is of a general nature, unless the court comes to the conclusion that such corroboration should be on material facts also because of the facts of a particular case. The degree of corroboration so required is that  which is  necessary for a  prudent man to believe in the existence of facts mentioned in the confessional statement.

(v) The requirement of sub­rule (5) of Rule 15 of the TADA Rules which contemplates a confessional statement being sent to the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate or the Chief Judicial Magistrate who,  in turn, will have to send the same to the Designated Court is not mandatory and is only directory. However, the court considering the case of direct transmission of the confessional statement to the Designated Court should satisfy itself on facts of each case whether  such direct transmission of the confessional statement in the facts of the case creates any doubt as to the genuineness of the said confessional statement.”

19. Bearing these principles in mind, let us consider as to whether

the  confession  of the  appellant  was  voluntary  and  truthful.  The

appellant was examined as DW­1.  In his evidence he has stated

that he was arrested on 19.05.2007, when he was returning from

Chennai airport. He was detained for two days and was taken to

Trichi, “Q” branch office and was kept there for one day.   During



this period, he was allegedly tortured by the police. On 22.05.2007

he was produced before the Judicial  Magistrate,  Trichi,  and was

remanded by the court till 25.07.2007. PW­27 made an application

requesting for police custody of the accused for five days and

obtained police custody from 25.07.2007 to 27.07.2007. On

25.07.2007, when the appellant was sitting in the police vehicle,

Mr. Rajendran, ‘Q’ Branch Inspector, told him that he should sign

certain papers, otherwise he would be killed in police custody.

When he was brought before the Designated Court, on the same

day, he informed the same to the learned Judge and gave a petition

(Ex. D­1) stating that he was tortured by the police and that he had

nothing to do with the alleged incident. When he was again

produced before the Designated Court, after recording the

confession statement, he gave a petition (Ex. D­2) stating that he

has not made any incriminating statement before PW­28.

20. On 26.07.2007, PW­29 produced the appellant before PW­28.

PW­28 during his cross­examination has stated that until the

accused was produced on 26.07.2007, the accused was in police

custody.   On 26.07.2007, though it has been recorded that a



number of questions were put to the accused and the answers were

elicited, there is no record to show that the appellant­accused was

warned as required under Section 15 of  the TADA Act and Rule

15(3) of the TADA Rules. During his cross­examination PW­28 has

stated that he gave warning to the accused which was not

supported  by  any  contemporary record,  namely,  Ex. P­56  dated

26.06.2007.  As  it is  seen  in Ex.  P­57, only  two questions were

asked to the appellant and answers elicited, which do not reflect

any warning as required under the TADA Act and the TADA Rules.

The evidence of PW­28 is that he gave the same warning which he

had given on 26.07.2007.   There are no contemporary records to

show that the warning was made on 26.07.2007 or 27.07.2007. The

second question asked on 27.07.2007 (per Ex. P­57) assumes much

importance. In this question PW­28 has only explained to the

accused that he had been produced only to record his statement.

He did not explain to the accused that he had been produced to

record the confession.  

21. It was contended by the learned Additional Advocate General,

appearing for the respondent, that the footnote appended to Ex. P­



56 would  satisfy  Section 15  of  TADA Act  and Rule  15 of  TADA

Rules. It is necessary to notice here that complying with these rules

is not an empty formality or a mere technicality as these provisions

serve a statutory purpose to ensure a fair trial as guaranteed under

Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The entire proceedings on

record should reflect application of mind into various surrounding

circumstances  including questions and answers elicited  from the

accused.   Mere recording in a certificate will only amount to

technical observance of the rule but that will not prove the

voluntariness of the statement. In law, it is not the technical

observance of the rules  but it is the real satisfaction about the

voluntariness of the confession is sine qua non.

22. It is also necessary to state here that the confession recorded

by the police officer is undoubtedly equated to a confession

recorded by a Judicial Magistrate under Section 164 Cr.P.C. Thus,

the said confession is a substantive piece of evidence.  Therefore, all

the  safeguards which are to  be followed by  a  Magistrate  should

have been followed by the police officer also. It is well­settled that

the satisfaction  arrived  at  by the  Magistrate  under  Section  164



Cr.P.C. is, if doubtful, then, the entire confession should be


23. In the instant case, it is evident that from out of the questions

put by PW­28 and the answers elicited and the manner in which

the accused has made the statement are all the foundations upon

which it is to be found out as to whether the statement was made

voluntarily or not. If the certificate is not supported by any of the

above inputs, then the certificate needs to be rejected. The police

officer cannot record such a certificate out of his own imagination

and the entire proceedings should reflect that the certificate was

rightly given based on the materials. In the present case, there is

nothing on record to prove the voluntariness of the statement. Ex.

D­1 and D­2 and other circumstances would go to show that the

appellant could not have made the statement voluntarily. Therefore,

the confession statement of the appellant requires to be rejected.

24. The second question for consideration is whether the

statement of two other co­accused (Ex. P­26 and P­27) is admissible

in evidence.



25. The confession statement of  the co­accused was recorded by

the Superintendent of Police (PW­20) in Crime No.160/1990. The

appellant was absconding, hence the proclamation order was issued

by the trial court  and thereafter the case  was  split  against the

appellant. A separate trial was conducted against the appellant and

the impugned judgment convicting the appellant­accused has been

passed by the Designated Court.

26. The  contention  of the learned  Additional  Advocate  General,

appearing for the appellant, is that the appellant cannot take the

advantage of his own wrong to thwart the object and purpose of

Section 15 of the TADA Act.  

27. Learned senior counsel appearing for the appellant has

submitted that the confession statements of the two co­accused are

not at all admissible in evidence because there was no joint trial of

those two co­accused with the appellant. Therefore, Ex. P­26 and

Ex. P­27 are not admissible in evidence.

28. Section 30 of the Indian Evidence Act mandates that to make

the confession of a co­accused admissible in evidence, there has to

be a  joint trial. If there  is  no  joint trial, the confession of  a  co­



accused is not at all admissible in evidence and, therefore, the same

cannot  be  taken as evidence  against the other  co­accused.  The

Constitution Bench of this  Court in  Kartar Singh  (supra),  while

considering the inter­play between Section 30 of the Indian

Evidence  Act  and Section 15  of the  TADA Act  held that  as  per

Section 15 of the TADA Act, after the amendment of the year 1993,

the confession  of the co­accused, is also  a substantive  piece  of

evidence provided that there is a joint trial.

29. In State v. Nalini and others5  Justice Quadri has held that a

confession of an accused made under Section 15 of the TADA Act is

admissible against all those tried jointly with him.  It has been held


“688. Having excluded the application of Sections 24 to 30 of  the Evidence Act to a confession recorded under Section 15(1) of the TADA Act, a self­contained scheme is incorporated therein for recording the confession of an accused and its admissibility in his trial with co­accused, abettor or conspirator for offences under the TADA Act or the Rules made thereunder or any other offence under any other law which can jointly be tried with the offence with which he is charged  at the same  trial.  There is thus  no room to import the requirements of Section 30 of the Evidence Act in Section 15 of the TADA Act.

5  (1999) 5 SCC 253



689. Under Section 15(1) of the TADA Act the position, in my view, is much stronger, for it says,

“a confession made by a person before a police officer not lower in rank than a Superintendent of Police and recorded by such police officer either in writing or on any mechanical device like cassettes, tapes or soundtracks from out of which sounds or images can be reproduced, shall be admissible in the trial of such person or co­ accused, abettor or conspirator for an offence under this Act or Rules made thereunder, provided that co­accused, abettor or conspirator is charged and tried in the same case together with the accused.”

On the language of sub­section (1) of Section 15, a confession of an accused is made admissible evidence as against all those tried jointly with him, so it is implicit that the same can be considered against all those tried together. In this  view of the  matter also, Section  30 of the Evidence  Act need  not be invoked for consideration of confession of an accused against a co­accused, abettor or conspirator charged and tried in the same case along with the accused.”

30. In Jameel Ahmad (supra), this Court has reiterated the above

position as under:

“30……Therefore we notice that the accepted principle in law is that a confessional statement of an accused recorded under Section 15 of the TADA Act is a substantive piece of evidence even against his co­



accused  provided the accused concerned are tried together.”

31. In the instant case, no doubt, the appellant was absconding.

That is why, joint trial of the appellant with the other two accused

persons  could  not  be  held.  As  noticed  above,  Section 15  of the

TADA Act specifically provides that the confession recorded shall be

admissible in trial of a co­accused for offence committed and tried

in the same case together with the accused who makes the

confession. We are of the view, that if for any reason, a joint trial is

not held, the confession of a co­accused cannot be held to be

admissible in evidence  against  another  accused  who  would face

trial at a later point of time in the same case. We are of the further

opinion that if we are to accept the argument of the learned counsel

for the respondent­State,  it is as good as re­writing the scope of

Section 15 of the TADA Act as amended in the year 1993.  

32. In  Ananta Dixit  v.  The State6  the  Orissa  High Court  was

considering a similar case under Section 30 of the Evidence Act.

The appellant, in this case, was absconding. The question for

consideration was whether a confession of one of the accused

6  1984 Crl. L.J. 1126



persons who was tried earlier, is admissible in evidence against the

appellant. The Court held that the confession of the co­accused was

not admissible in evidence against the present appellant. The Court


“7. As recorded by the learned trial Judge, the accused Narendra Bahera, whose confessional statement had been relied upon, had been tried earlier and not jointly with the appellant and the co­ accused person Baina Das. A confession of the accused may be admissible and used not only against  him but also against a co­accused  person tried  jointly  with him for  the same offence. Section 30 applies to a case in which the confession is made by accused tried at the same time with the accused person against whom  the confession is used. The confession of an accused tried previously would be rendered inadmissible. Therefore, apart from the evidentiary value of the confession of  a co­accused person, the confession of Narendra Behera was not to be admitted under Section 30 of the Evidence Act against the present appellant and the co­accused Baina Das.”

We are in complete agreement with the view of the High Court.

33. We are of the view that since the trial of the other two accused

persons was separate, their   confession   statements   (Ex.P­26 and

P­27) are not admissible in evidence and the same cannot be taken

as evidence against the appellant.



34. In view of the discussion made above, the Designated Court

was not justified in convicting the appellant. The appeal is

accordingly allowed. The judgment and order dated 4.12.2009

passed by the Presiding Judge, Designated Court No.2, Chennai, in

Calendar Case No.1/2007, is hereby set aside and the appellant­

accused is acquitted for the offence for which he was tried. This

Court by order dated 25.09.2010 had granted the bail to the

appellant. Hence, the question of releasing him does not arise. The

bail bond executed by the appellant and the surety, if any, stands



     …………………………………………J.     (S. ABDUL NAZEER)


     (DEEPAK GUPTA) New Delhi; April 1, 2020.