India: Interpretation and the Position law - - on Admission of Guilt During/Prior Disciplinary Enquiry

Last Updated: 4 December 2002
Article by Shivaji Rao

Evidentiary Value of the expression admission / confession: In the case of Sahoo vs. State of U.P, AIR 1966 SC 40 the Supreme Court has observed "It is said that one cannot confess to himself; he can only confess to another. This raises an interesting point, which falls to be decided on a consideration of the relevant provisions of the Evidence Act. Section 24 to 30 of the Evidence Act deal with the admissibility of confession by accused persons in criminal cases. But the expression "confession" is not defined. The Judicial Committee in Pakala Narayanaswami v. Emperor, 66 Ind App 66: (AIR 1939 PC 47) has defined the said expression thus:

"A confession is a statement made by an accused which must either admit in terms the offence, or at any rate substantially all the facts which constitute the offence."

A scrutiny of the provisions of Ss. 17 to 30 of the Evidence Act discloses, as one learned author puts it that statement is a genus, admission is the species and confession is the sub-species. Shortly stated, a confession is a statement made by an accused admitting his guilt. What does the expression "statement" mean? The dictionary meaning of the word "statement" is "the act of stating, reciting or presenting verbally or on paper." The term "statement", therefore, includes both oral and written statements. It is also a necessary ingredient of the term that it shall be communicated to another ? The dictionary meaning of the term does not warrant any such extension; or the reason of the rule underlying the doctrine of admission or confession demands it. Admissions and confessions are exceptions to the hearsay rule. The Evidence Act places them in the category of relevant evidence presumably on the grounds that, as they are declarations against the interest of the person making them, they are probably true. The probative value of an admission or a confession does not depend upon its communication to another, though, just like any other piece of evidence, it can be admitted in evidence only on proof. This proof in the case of oral admission or confession can be offered only by witnesses who heard the admission or confession, as the case may be".

In the case of K.S Srinivasan vs. Union of India, AIR 1958 SC 419 the apex court has held that Admission - Probative value - An admission is not conclusive proof of the matter admitted, though it may in certain circumstances operate as an estoppel. Relying on the ratio of the said judgment the court in the case of Allahabad Bank vs. Pronab Kumar Mukherjee, 1993 I LLJ 390 has held that an admission may not in all cases do away with the requirement of holding an enquiry. Even if no enquiry is required to be held in a particular case, the conditions laid down in the relevant rules should be strictly followed

No enquiry necessary when guilt is admitted – In the case of Central Bank of India vs. Karunamoy Banerjee, AIR 1968 SC 266 the Supreme Court has observed that "We must, however, emphasize that the rules of natural justice, as laid down by this Court, will have to be observed, in the conduct of a domestic enquiry against a workman. If the allegations are denied by the workman, it is needless to state that the burden of proving the truth of those allegations will be on the management; and the witnesses called, by the management, must be allowed to be cross-examined, by the workman, and the latter must also be given an opportunity to examine himself and adduce any other evidence that he might choose, in support of his plea. But, if the workman admits his guilt, to insist upon the management to let in evidence about the allegations, will, in our opinion, only be an empty formality". In nutshell, if a workman against whom disciplinary proceedings are instituted, admits his guilt, there is no necessity for the management to hold any enquiry.

The Apex Court in the case of Channabasappa Basappa Happali, vs. The State of Mysore, AIR 1972 SC32, has observed that – "it was contended on the basis of the ruling reported in R. v. Durham Quarter Sessions; Ex parte Virgo, (1952 (2) QBD 1) that on the facts admitted in the present case, a plea of guilty ought not to be entered upon the record and a plea of not guilty entered instead. Under the English law, a plea of guilty has to be unequivocal and the Court must ask the person and if the plea of guilty is qualified the Court must not enter a plea of guilty but one of not guilty. The Police constable here was not on his trial for a criminal offence. It was a departmental enquiry, on facts of which due notice was given to him. He admitted the facts. In fact his counsel argued before us that he admitted the facts but not his guilt. We do not see any distinction between admission of facts and admission of guilt. When he admitted the facts, he was guilty. The facts speak for themselves. It was a clear case of indiscipline and nothing less".

In case a workman admits the charge against him or makes an unconditional and unqualified confession then there is nothing more to be done away of enquiry and it cannot be argued that the procedure of departmental enquiry should have been applied notwithstanding such admission or confession held in J.L Toppo vs. Tata Locomative & Engg. Co. Ltd., 1964 ICR 586 (IC).

The Hon’ble Andhra Pradesh High Court in the case of Instrumentation Ltd., vs. P.O. Labour Court, 1988 II LLJ 492 has held that - Section 58 of the Evidence Act lays down that facts admitted need not be proved, and therefore, where the facts are admitted and those are sufficient to make out a case of misconduct, any further departmental enquiry would be an empty formality.

In the case of P.K Thankachan vs. Thalandu services Co-op Bank, 1994 II LLJ 423, the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala has held that - Evidence is required to prove disputed facts and no admitted facts. Where an admission is made after knowing the charges, no evidence is required to be held. It would be a different matter if the admission of guilt is by an employee who could not understand what the charges were or if he was induced or coerced into admitting his guilt.

In the case of Manger Boisahabi tea Estate vs. P.O. Labour Court, 1981 Lab IC 557, the Hon’ble Guahati High Court has held that - a misconduct owned and admitted by the delinquent is antithesis of the violation of principles of natural justice or victimisation as understood in industrial relations, as the question of prejudice does not arise under such circumstances.

In the case of Mnajunatha Gowda vs. Director General of Central Reserve Police Force, 1995 (70) FLR 659 held by the Karnataka High Court that, there is no infringement whatsoever of the rules of natural justice if no enquiry is conducted after the charge is admitted by the delinquent employee. The Andhra Pradesh High Court has further clarified in the case of K. Venkateshwarlu vs. Nagarjuna Gramin Bank, 1995 II LLJ 492, that even if the employer holds a departmental enquiry in-spite of such admission of guilt, and the Court finds some flaw or defect in such unnecessary enquiry conducted by the employer, the Court cannot set aside the order made by the employer imposing punishment. It is so because even if a defective enquiry is conducted, no prejudice is caused to the delinquent because action could have been taken against him on the basis of admission.

Do’s and Don’ts of admission so as to avert the necessity of holding enquiry. - The Apex Court in the case of Jagadish Prasad Saxena vs. Sate of M.P, AIR 1961 SC 1070 held that, as the statements made by the appellant did not amount to a clear or unambiguous admission of his guilt, failure to hold a formal enquiry constituted a serious infirmity in the order of dismissal passed against him, as the appellant had no opportunity at all of showing cause against the charge framed against him and so the requirement of Art. 311(2) was not satisfied. - - Even if the appellant had made some statements which amounted to admission, it was open to doubt whether he could be removed from service on the strength of the said alleged admissions without holding a formal enquiry as required by the rules.

It is of the utmost importance that in taking disciplinary action against a public servant a proper departmental enquiry must be held against him after supplying him with a charge-sheet, and he must be allowed a reasonable opportunity to meet the allegations contained in the charge-sheet. The departmental enquiry is not an empty formality; it is a serious proceeding intended to give the officer concerned a chance to meet the charge and to prove his innocence. In the absence of any such enquiry it would not be fair to strain facts against the appellant and to hold that in view of the admissions made by him the enquiry would have served no useful purpose. That is a matter of speculation which is wholly out of place in dealing with cases of orders passed against public servants terminating their services.

In Allahabad Bank vs. Pronab Kumar Mukherjee, 1993 I LLJ 390, it has been held that an admission has to be construed strictly because it deprives a delinquent employee of his right to show that the allegations against him have no basic at all and that he is innocent. An admission of guilt is different from acceptance of moral obligation. If the employee denies the charges levelled against him but makes good the shortage considering that as in-charge of the department it is his moral obligation, it cannot be taken to be an admission of his guilt. The disciplinary authority should enquire as to whether it was an act of the employee as in-charge or of the other employees under him which resulted in the shortage.

In the case of ACC Babock Ltd., vs. Bhimsa, (1987) 71 FJR 384 it has been held, if a person admits the allegation but gives reasons for the same, it does not amount to admission of guilt. It only amounts to accepting the fact of allegation but under extenuating circumstances which may be justified. In such a case, an enquiry is to be held as the workman has a right to lead evidence to support the plea of extenuating circumstances which may lead the management to take a lenient view.

Further it has been held in the case of P.Selvaraj vs. M.D Kattabamman Transport Corpn. Ltd., 1999 I LLJ 1186 it has been held that where the employee stated in his statement that whatever that had happened, had happened because of the problems which were created by the passengers and their quarrel with him and that he had not consciously committed any mistake, it was held that this observation could not be taken to be an admission. Merely picking out a single sentence from the entire explanation, and treating the statement of the employee as amounting to admission of guilt could not be sustained.

In Associated Cement Co. Ltd. Vs. Abdul Gaffar, 1980 Lab IC 683. the workman had contended that his confession of guilt during the inquiry was given on an assurance by the inquiry office that the workman would not be dismissed from service. This was denied by the inquiry officer. The Court felt on an examination of the relevant facts that the workman’s plea appeared to be an afterthought. It was further observed by the Court that as a rule of prudence, whenever there is a conflict of versions, the version given by the inquiry officer should normally be accepted.

Fall-out the judicial decisions which are to kept in mind are as under:

Principles regarding admission must be complied with:

  1. Confession statements should be scrutinized with utmost care & caution
  2. Confession should be in terms of the misconduct / charges.
  3. All the ingredients of the charge must be admitted in the confession.
  4. Confession should be interpreted as whole and an admission along with explanations / reasons does not amount to confession.
  5. Confession should be unconditional & unqualified.
  6. Confession should be secured without threat or coercion.
  7. Confession is also vitiated by inducement.
  8. Admission or confession before issue of charge sheet can be used as evidence but does not obviate enquiry.

When admission is withdrawn. – When a confession / admission is retracted it becomes doubtful and therefore, the principles of natural justice mandates that it should be corroborated. In the case of Thotapalli Radhakrishnamurthy vs. Divisional Manager, United India Insurance Co., 1982 Lab IC 1745 the court has observed that it is not safe to act upon the admission of the delinquent when it is denied and when it is alleged to have been extracted by coercion. Further in the case of Madikal Service Co-op. Bank ltd., vs. Labour Court (1987) 71 FJR 322, it has been held that where the charge-sheeted employee had made some inculpatory statement before the audit part and also give a general statement in a letter that he had committed mistakes and was, therefore, guilty, but in his written statement of defence denied every one of the charges and also challenged the said inculpatory statement as being not voluntary, it was held that the Labour Court was justified in concluding that the employee did not pleas guilty to the charges. There should have been a proper enquiry examining the witnesses and the employee being allowed to cross-examine the witnesses and adduce evidence.

When fact of misconduct has to be established in-spite of admission. – In Natvarbhai S. Makwana vs. Union Bank of India, 1985 II LLJ 296, it was held by a Single Judge of the Gujarat High Court (at p. 302 of LLJ) that even in case of admission, the factum of misconduct must be established. Dealing with a case of theft or misappropriation of Bank money, the Court observed that it might happen that the bank authorities may bona fide believe that there is theft or misappropriation, and later on in audit, it might be discovered that there was accounting mistake and no theft or misappropriation whatsoever. To avoid such possibility, it is always necessary that the factum of misconduct be established. The delinquent employee may be induced to confess the guilt for various reasons. It is submitted that, putting it in simple language, the Court held that it should first be proved that the misconduct has been committed, and the admission would be relevant only with regard to the question whether the employee concerned is guilty of the said misconduct. It is submitted that such a dictum may hold good only in respect of a limited class of cases like theft or misappropriation, and it would be safer in such cases for the employer to prove the occurrence of theft on misappropriation and also consequent loss caused thereby even in case of admission.

The content of this article does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on in that way. Specific advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:
  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.
  • Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.
    If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here
    If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here

    Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

    Use of

    You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


    Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

    The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


    Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

    • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
    • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
    • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

    Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

    Information Collection and Use

    We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

    We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

    Mondaq News Alerts

    In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


    A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

    Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

    Log Files

    We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


    This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

    Surveys & Contests

    From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


    If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


    From time to time Mondaq may send you emails promoting Mondaq services including new services. You may opt out of receiving such emails by clicking below.

    *** If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of services offered by Mondaq you may opt out by clicking here .


    This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

    Correcting/Updating Personal Information

    If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

    Notification of Changes

    If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

    How to contact Mondaq

    You can contact us with comments or queries at

    If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

    By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions