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Indian Case Summary

Kashmira Singh vs State Of Madhya Pradesh on 4 March, 1952 – Case Summary

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In the case of Kashmira Singh vs State Of Madhya Pradesh, which was heard by the Supreme Court of India on 4th March 1952, the court grappled with a particularly gruesome murder and the legal implications of using a co-accused’s confession as evidence.

Facts of the Case

Kashmira Singh, an Assistant Food Procurement Inspector, was convicted for the murder of a five-year-old boy named Ramesh. The case was brought to the Supreme Court after Singh was sentenced to death. The murder was allegedly motivated by revenge, as Singh’s services had been terminated due to a report made by Ramesh’s father, L.P. Tiwari, who was the Food Officer at Gondia. Singh was reportedly embittered by this and had expressed a determination to seek revenge.

Issues and Court Observations

A significant issue in this case was the use of a co-accused’s confession as evidence against another accused. The court noted that such a confession is not evidence in the ordinary sense, as it does not fall within the definition of evidence contained in section 3 of the Indian Evidence Act. It is not given under oath, nor in the presence of the accused, and cannot be tested by cross-examination.

The court observed that such a confession is a much weaker type of evidence than the evidence of an approver. It can only be used to lend assurance to other evidence against a co-accused. The court suggested that the proper approach in such cases is to first marshal the evidence against the accused excluding the confession altogether from consideration and see whether, if it is believed, a conviction could safely be based on it.

Judgment

The court held that a conviction can be based on the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice provided the judge has the rule of caution, which experience dictates, in mind. The court also noted that it is not proper or desirable for the prosecution to examine as a witness the magistrate who recorded the confession.

The court’s judgment in this case provides a significant precedent on the use of a co-accused’s confession as evidence and the necessity of corroboration in such instances. It also underscores the importance of a careful and dispassionate examination of evidence in cases involving particularly heinous crimes.