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ADMISSIONS [SECTIONS 17-23 & 31]


In general, Admission is a voluntary acknowledgment of a fact. Importance is given to those admissions that goes against the
interests of the person making the admission.

For example, when A says to B that he stole money from C, A makes an admission of the fact that A stole money from C. This fact is
detrimental to the interests of A. The concept behind this is that nobody would accept or acknowledge a fact that goes against their
interest unless it is indeed true. Unless A indeed stole money from C, it is not normal for A to say that he stole money from C.
Therefore, an admission becomes an important piece of evidence against a person. On the other hand, anybody can make assertions
in favor of themselves. They can be true or false. For example, A can keep on saying that a certain house belongs to himself, but
that does not mean it is necessarily true. Therefore, such assertions do not have much evidentiary value.

Admission as per Indian Evidence Act -


SECTION 17 OF INDIAN EVIDENCE ACT DEFINES ADMISSION AS THUS - AN ADMISSION IS A STATEMENT, ORAL
OR DOCUMENTARY, OR CONTAINED IN ELECTRONIC FORM, WHICH SUGGESTS ANY INFERENCE AS TO ANY
FACT IN ISSUE OR RELEVANT FACT, AND WHICH IS MADE BY ANY OF THE PERSONS AND UNDER THE
CIRCUMSTANCES HEREINAFTER MENTIONED.

As per this definition, any statement, which suggests any inference about any fact in issue or relevant fact, and which is made by
persons under certain circumstances, is an admission. These circumstances are mentioned in Section 18 to 20 as follows

1. A party to the proceeding (Civil or Criminal) or by his agent. [S.18]


2. Parties suing or being sued in a representative character (e.g. trustees, executors, assignee of a bankrupt etc.) while they hold
that character. [S.18]
3. Persons having proprietary or pecuniary interests in the proceeding, fi the statements are made
i) In their character of persons so interested; and
ii) During the continuance of their interest.
4. Persons from whom the parties to the suit have derived their interest in the subject-matter of the suit, provided that the
statements are made during the continuance of the interest of the person making the statement. [S.18]

For example, A bought a piece of land from B. Statements made by B at the time when B was the owner of the land are
admissions against A.

5. Persons whose position or liability it is necessary to prove as against party to the suit if the statements are made during the
continuance of such position or liability, and are such as would be relevant as against such persons (in relation to position /
liability) in a suit brought by or against them. [S.19]

Illustration -
A undertakes to collect rent for B.
B sues A for not collecting rent due from C to B.
A denies that rent was due from C to B.
A statement by C that he owned B rent is an admission, and is a relevant fact as against A, if A denies that C did owe rent to B.

6. Persons to whom a party to the suit has expressly referred for information in reference to the matter in dispute. [S.20]

Illustration - The question is, whether a horse sold by A to B is sound A says to B "Go and ask C. C knows all about it" C's
statement is an admission.

Therefore, an admission made by a person in a plaint signed and verified by him may be used as evidence against him in other suits.
Of course, the admission cannot be regarded as conclusive, and it is open to the party concerned to show that the statement is not
true. (Basant Singh v. Janki Singh, A.I.R. 1976 S.C. 341)

Admissions are broadly classified into two categories:


(a) JUDICIAL ADMISSIONS, and
(b) EXTRA-JUDICIAL ADMISSIONS.
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Judicial admissions are formal admissions made by a party to the proceeding in the case. Extra-judicial admissions are informal
admissions not appearing on the record of the case. Judicial admissions, being made in the case, are fully binding on the party who
makes them. They constitute a waiver of proof. They can be made the foundation of the rights of the parties.

Extra-judicial admissions are also binding on the party against whom they are set up. Unlike judicial admissions, they are binding
only partially and not fully, except in cases where they operate as or have the effect of estoppel, in which case, they are fully binding,
and may constitute the foundation of the rights of the parties. (Ajodhya Prasad v. Bhawani Shanker, A.I.R. 1957 All. 1 F.B.)

To be considered an admission, it is not necessary for a statement to give a direct acknowledgment of liability. It is sufficient even
if the statement suggests an inference about the liability.

For example, A is charged with murder of B by giving poison. The statement by A that he purchased a bottle of poison is admission
because it suggests the inference that he might have murdered B using that poison, even though it does not clearly acknowledge
the fact that A murdered B.
In the case of Chekham Koteshwara Rao vs C Subbarao, AIR 1981, SC held that before the right of a party can be taken to be defeated
on the basis of an alleged admission by him, the implication of the statement must be clear and conclusive. There should not be
any doubt or ambiguity. Further, it held that it is necessary to read all of his statements together. Thus, stray elements elicited in
cross examination cannot be taken as admission.

It is important to note that Indian Evidence Act does not require that an admission be of statements that are against the interests
of the maker. All that is necessary is that the statement should suggest some inference as to a fact in issue or relevant to the issue,
even if the inference is in the interest of the maker of the statement. Self-serving prior statements are also admissions.

It is generally immaterial to whom an admission is made. An admission made to a stranger is also relevant. Admissions are as much
binding on the Government as on ordinary persons.

For example, A person can say to B that he did not steal money from C. This is a self-serving statement and is a valid admission.
Does this mean that a person can make self-serving statements and escape from his liability? The answer is no because such self-
serving admissions are governed by the provisions of Section 21, which says the following -

SECTION 21 - PROOF OF ADMISSIONS AGAINST PERSONS MAKING THEM, AND BY OR ON THEIR BEHALF - Admissions are relevant and
may be proved as against the person who makes them, or his representative in interest; but they cannot be proved by or on behalf
of the person who makes them or by his representative in interest, except in the following cases -
1. An admission may be proved by or on behalf of the person making it, when it is of such a nature that, if the person making it
were dead, it would be relevant as between third persons under section 32.
Illustrations
a. the captain of a ship, is tried for casting her away. Evidence is given to show that the ship was taken out of her proper
course. A produces a book kept by him in the ordinary course of his business showing observations alleged to
have been taken by him from day to day, and indicating that the ship was not taken out of her proper course. A
may prove these statements, because they would be admissible between third parties, if he were dead, under section
32, clause (2).
b. A is accused of a crime committed by him at Calcutta. He produces a letter written by himself and dated at Lahore on
that day, and bearing the Lahore post-mark of that day. The statement in the date of the letter is admissible, because,
if A were dead, it would be admissible under section 32, clause (2).

2. An admission may be proved by or on behalf of the person making it, when it consists of a statement of the existence of any
state of mind or body, relevant or in issue, made at or about the time when such state of mind or body existed, and is
accompanied by conduct rendering its falsehood improbable.

3. An admission may be proved by or on behalf of the person making it, if it is relevant otherwise than as an admission.

Illustrations
(a) The question between A and B is, whether a certain deed is or is not forged. A affirms that it is genuine, B that it is forged. A
may prove a statement by B that the deed is genuine, and B may prove a statement by A that deed is forged; but A cannot
prove a statement by himself that the deed is genuine, nor can B prove a statement by himself that the deed is forged.
(b) A is accused of receiving stolen goods knowing them to be stolen. He offers to prove that he refused to sell them below their
value. A may prove these statements, though they are admissions, because they are explanatory of conduct influenced by facts
in issue.
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(c) A is accused of fraudulently having in his possession counterfeit coin which he knew to be counterfeit. He offers to prove that
he asked a skillful person to examine the coin as he doubted whether it was counterfeit or not, and that that person did examine
it and told him it was genuine. A may prove these facts for the reasons stated in the last preceding illustration.

From the above illustrations it is clear that the general rule is that a person is not allowed to prove his own admissions. Otherwise,
as observed in R vs Hardy [1794], every man, if he were in difficulty, or in view of one, might make declarations to suit his own case
and then lodge them in proof of his case.

This principle, however, is subject to some important EXCEPTIONS, which allow a person to prove his own statements. These are as
follows -

EXCEPTION 1 - When the statement should have been relevant as dying declaration or as that of a deceased person under Section
32. Section 32 deals with the statement of persons who have died or who otherwise cannot come before the court. The statement
of any such person can be proved in any case or proceeding to which it is relevant whether it operates in favor of or against the
person making the statement. In circumstances stated in Section 32 such a statement can be proved by the maker himself if he is
still alive. In the situation described in Illustration (b), in a case between the ship-owner and the insurance company, the contents
of the log book maintained by the captain would have been relevant evidence if the captain were dead under Section 32. Therefore,
the captain is allowed to prove the contents of the log book even in the case involving him and the ship-owners.

EXCEPTION 2 - Statements as to bodily feeling or mind - It enables a person to prove his statements about his state of mind or body
if such state of mind or body is a fact in issue or is relevant fact and if the statement was made at the time when such state of mind
or body existed and further if the statement is accompanied with his conduct that makes the falsehood of the statements
improbable. In Illustration (d), the statements of A that show that he refused to sell them below their value, are self-serving
admissions. However, it is acceptable because they reflect A's state of mind and were associated with a conduct of refusing to sell
that makes their falsehood improbably.

EXCEPTION 3 - The last exception allows a person to prove his own statement when it is otherwise relevant under any of the
provisions relating to relevancy. There are many cases in which a statement is relevant not because it is an admission but because
it establishes the existence or non-existence of a relevant fact or a fact in issue. In all such cases a party can prove his own
statements. These cases are covered by the following sections -

a. SECTION 6 - When a statement is made relevant by the doctrine of res gestae i.e. due to part of the same transaction. For
example, immediately after a road accident, if the victim has made a statement to the rescuer about the cause of the accident,
he can prove that statement because it is part of the same transaction.

b. SECTION 8 - A statement may be proved by or on behalf of the person make it under Section 8 if it accompanies or explains acts
other than statements or if it influences the conduct of a person whose conduct is relevant. For example, where A says to B, "You
have not paid my money back", and B walks away in silence, A may prove his own statement because it has influenced the
conduct of a person whose conduct is relevant.

c. SECTION 14 - When the statement explains his state of mid or body or bodily feeling when any such thing is relevant or is in issue,
it can be proved by himself. For example, where the question is whether a person has been guilty of cruelty towards his wife,
he may prove his statements made shortly before or after the alleged cruelty which explain his love and affection for and his
feeling towards his wife.

SECTION 22 WHEN ORAL ADMISSIONS AS TO THE CONTENTS OF DOCUMENTS ARE RELEVANT

Oral admissions as to the contents of documents are not relevant unless

i) The party proposing to prove them shows that he is entitled to give secondary evidence of the contents of such
documents; or
ii) The genuineness of the document produced is in question.

The best primary evidence of a document is the original, although it has been held in Slatterie v Pooley (1840) 6 M & W 664 that an
informal admission is primary evidence of the contents of a document against the party making the admission. Thus, under the
general rule, a party suing for damages for breach of a covenant for quiet enjoyment will have to prove the covenant by reference
to the original lease. However, it has been criticized as involving a substantial risk of inaccuracy and as being in contravention of the
purpose of the "Best Evidence Rule". Although this leading decision has held the field in England since 1840, it has received much
criticism and has been applied with several modifications. The decision was disapproved in the Irish case of Lawless v. Dueale, where
the Judge opined that the doctrine laid down in Slatterie v. Pooley is a most dangerous proposition.
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22A. WHEN ORAL ADMISSION AS TO CONTENTS OF ELECTRONIC RECORDS ARE RELEVANT Oral admissions as to the contents of
electronic records are not relevant, unless the genuineness of the electronic record produced is in question.]

SECTION 23 ADMISSION IN CIVIL CASES RELEVANT - In civil cases no admission is relevant,


i) if it is made either upon an express condition that evidence of it is not to be given, or
ii) under circumstances from which the Court can infer that the parties agreed together that evidence of it should both
be given.

Explanation Nothing in this section shall be taken to exempt any barrister, pleader attorney or vakil from giving evidence of any
matter of which he may be compelled to give evidence under section 126.