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Admission is dealt in Chapter-2 Section 17 to 23 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. Section 17 of the evidence act defines admission it says that, “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.” An “admission” is a statement of fact which waives or dispenses with the production of evidence by conceding that the fact asserted by the opponent is true.

If, for example, a person is sued for the recovery of a loan and there is an entry in his account book recording the fact of the loan, that is an admission on his part of his liability or if he makes any statement to the effect that “he does owes the money” that will also be an admission being a direct acknowledgment of liability.

H.G. Ramchandra Rao v. Srikantha, 1997 Cr LJ 347

Admissions should be clear, accurate and specific and it should be the language told by the person admitting inference drawn by a person upon the words of the person admitting cannot be called admission.

G. Rangaiah v. Govindappa, AIR 2008 Kant 151

It was said that admission should be of a precise fact and it should be specific and there should not be multiple inferences available for an admission.

Ajodhya Prasad Bhargava v. Bhawani Shankar Bhargava, AIR 1957 All 1

Admission is the confession or voluntary acknowledgement of a party or any person identified with them to that of the existence of certain facts in legal interest, the predominant characteristics of such types of evidence is of its binding nature.

Mukesh Kumar Ajmera v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 1997 Raj 250

It was observed by the court that just because an allegation is not denied it cannot be denied as to have been admitted.

N. Murali Krishna v. South Central Railway, Secunderabad, AIR 2014 AP 100

Admission must be self harming, not self serving. It was said that admission has to be made by an adversary and not by the person who asserts it.

Reasons for admissibility of Admissions

An admission is a relevant evidence. Several reasons have been suggested for receiving admissions in evidence:

  1. Admissions a waiver of proof- If a party has admitted a fact, it dispenses with the necessity of proving that fact against him.
  2. Admissions as statement against interest- It is highly improbable that a person will voluntarily make a false statement against his own interest.
  3. Admissions as evidence of contradictory statements- Another reason for the relevancy of an admission is that there is a contradiction between the party’s statement and his case. This kind of contradiction discredits his case.
  4. Admissions as evidence of truth- The most widely accepted reason that accounts for relevancy of admission is that what a party himself admits to be true may be presumed to be so.

Effects of Admissions

Ajodhya Prasad Bhargava v. Bhawani Prasad Bhargava

In this case three effects of admissions were enumerated. They are:–

  1. An admission constitutes a substantive piece of evidence in the case; and, for that reason, can be relied upon for proving the truth of the facts incorporated therein.
  2. Admission has the effect of shifting the onus of proving to the contrary on the party against whom it is produced with the result that it casts an imperative duty on such party to explain it. In the absence of a satisfactory explanation, it is presumed to be true.
  3. An admission, in order to be competent and to have the value and effect referred to above, should be clear, certain and definite, and not ambiguous, vague or confused.

Basant Singh v. Janki Singh, AIR 1967 SC 341

The question before the court was as to the date of death of a particular person. The plaintiff sought reliance on a statement made by the defendant in the plaint in an earlier suit. However, he denies the other statements contained in the plaint.

The Supreme Court, in this case, said that:

  1. Section 17 of the Evidence Act does not make any distinction between an admission made by the party to the proceeding and other types of admissions. An admission made by a party in a previous case can be used against him in other cases. However, in other cases, it will not be regarded as conclusive and it is on the party to the suit to disprove the admission.
  2. All the statements made in the plaint are admissible as evidence. The court is however not bound to accept all the statements, it has the discretion to accept some and reject the rest. In this case, the court rejected the statements that were against the plaintiff because of other circumstances.

Forms of Admissions

There are two types of admission, they are:

  • Judicial or formal admissions
  • Extra-judicial or informal admissions.

Judicial admissions are made by a party to the proceeding of the case prior to the trial. Such admissions, being made in the case, are fully binding on the party who makes them. Judicial admissions are fully binding on the party who made them and they constitute a waiver of proof. Its reference can be taken from section 58 of the act. In comparison, the evidentiary admissions which are receivable at the trial as evidence, can be shown to be wrong. Informal or casual i.e. extrajudicial admissions are those which do not appear on the record of the case, and may occur in the ordinary course of life, or in the course of business. However, unlike judicial admissions, they are binding on the party only partially, except in cases where they operate as or have the effect of estoppels.

In the case of “Prasad Bhargava v. Bhawani Shankar Bhargawa (supra)” it was said that unlike judicial admissions extrajudicial admissions are not fully but partly binding on the parties. However, they are binding in cases where they operate as or are having the effect of estoppel, in which cases they are fully binding.

“In criminal cases, statements made out of court by an accused are similarly admissible against him though they are subject to special conditions of admissibility and are usually called “confessions.” Confessions which comply with these special conditions and other statements made by a party or an accused person are admissible against him as evidence of the truth of the facts asserted and are termed informal admissions. Such admissions, unlike formal admissions, do not bind their maker but maybe contradicted or explained.”

Notes: Persons whose admissions are relevant are covered under Section 18-20.

Admissions by a party to proceedings or his agents

This is dealt with in Section 18 of the evidence act. Section 18 says that “Statements made by a party to the proceeding, or by an agent to any such party, whom the Court regards, under the circumstances of the case, as expressly or impliedly authorised by him to make them, are admissions.

By suitor in representative character– Statements made by parties to suits suing or sued in a representative character, are not admissions unless they were made while the party making them held that character.

Statements made by

  1. party interested in subject-matter–persons who have any proprietary or pecuniary interest in the subject-matter of the proceeding, and who make the statement in their character of persons so interested, or
  2. person from whom interest derived–persons from whom the parties to the suit have derived their interest in the subject-matter of the suit, are admissions, if they are made during the continuance of the interest of the persons making the statements.”

Section 18 lays down five classes of persons who can make admissions: –

  1. Party to the proceeding;
  2. Agent authorized by such party;
  3. Party suing or sued in a representative character, making admissions while holding such character;
  4. Person who has any proprietary or pecuniary interest in the subject-matter of the proceeding, during the continuance of such interest; and
  5. Person from whom the parties to the suit have derived their interest in the subject-matter of the suit, during the continuance of such interest.

“Nathoo Lal v. Durga Prasad, AIR 1954 SC 355”

It was said that whatever is admitted by the party in the court must be presumed to be true unless the contrary is proven but before this proposition can be taken it must be shown that the admission by the party is clear and unambiguous as must be conceived unless explained.

Roopi Bai v. Mahaveer, AIR 1994 Raj 133

In this case, the defendant merely pleaded ignorance of the facts that were placed before him. The court held that it will amount to admission unless by necessary implication it will amount to the denial of the fact.

Sital Prasad v. State, AIR 1953 All 101

In this case, a person was accused of the Foodgrains Control Order. The accused person made a general statement that he used to keep food grain bags which were left by a businessman. The court said that it was a general-statement and it do not satisfy the necessary conditions to prove offence and the fact that it was kept by him for sale, thus he cannot be convicted by the statement.

Admissions by persons whose position must be proved as against party to suit

Section 19 of the Indian Evidence Act deals with “admissions by persons whose position must be proved as against party to suit”.

It says that “Statements made by persons whose position or liability, it is necessary to prove as against any party to the suit, are admissions if such statements would be relevant as against such persons in relation to such position or liability in a suit brought by or against them, and if they are made whilst the person making them occupies such position or is subject to such liability.”

As per the general rule contained in Section 18, it is not permissible to take statements from people who are third parties to the suit this section and Section 20 says makes it possible to take statements from people who are third parties to the suit. These two sections are the exceptions to the general rule and it shows when and under what circumstances third party admission to a suit can be taken.

Appavu v. Nanjappa, ILR 25 Mad LJ 329

In this case, it was said by the court that “The object of this section is not to lay down that certain statements are relevant or admissible, but merely to add to the category of persons by whom a statement may be made before it can be considered to be an admission within the terms of the Indian Evidence Act. The statements referred to in Section 19 become admissible provided they satisfy the requirements of Section 17 as regards their nature, and Section 21 or any of the following sections, as regards their liability.”

Admissions by persons expressly referred to by party to suit

Section 20 of the Indian Evidence Act deals with “Admissions by persons expressly referred to by party to suit”. This section states that “Statements made by persons to whom a party to the suit has expressly referred for information in reference to a matter in dispute are admissions.”

As explained earlier this section is another exception to the general rule that admissions of third parties are not relevant to the suit. This section says that when a person refers a third person to him for information over an uncertain or disputed matter then his statement over the matter will be relevant.

Hirachand Kothari v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 1985 SC 998

The court said that, “Where a party refers to a third person for some information or an opinion on a matter in dispute, the statements made by the third person are receivable as admissions against the person referring. The reason is that when a party refers to another person for a statement of his views, the party approves of his utterance in anticipation and adopts that as his own. The principle is the same as that of reference to arbitration. The reference may be by express words or by conduct, but in any case, there must be a clear admission to refer and such admissions are generally conclusive.”

Against whom Admission may be proved

Section 21 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 speaks about, “Proof of admissions against persons making them, and by or on their behalf”.

First part of Section 21 — “Admissions are relevant and may be proved as against the person who makes them, or his representatives in interest”.

Section 21 lays down the principle as to proof of admissions. It is based upon the principle that an admission is an evidence against the party who had made the admission and, therefore, it can be proved only against him. No man should be at liberty to make evidence for himself through his own statements (i.e. he himself cannot prove his own statements). Granted this facility, every litigant would construct a favourable case by his own statement. Thus, ‘self-favouring’ admissions are not permissible. A party can prove a self-serving statement only under the exceptions laid down in Section 21. Where, however, a person’s self-serving statement subsequently becomes adverse to his interest, it may be proved against him as an admission.

Second part of Section 21 (Exceptions to Section 21) — Admissions cannot be proved by, or on behalf of, the person who makes them, except in the following three cases:

Exception 1 — “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”.

Thus, the statement should have been relevant as dying declaration or as that of a deceased person under Section 32. Illustration (b) to Section 21 is on the point. If the question was whether a ship was lost due to negligence or otherwise and the captain of the ship was dead, the contents of his personal diary would have been relevant though they operate in his favour1).

Exception 2 — “When the admission 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 a state of mind or body existed, and is accompanied by conduct rendering its falsehood improbable”.

The exception enables a person to prove his statements as to his state of body or of mind. If, for example, a person is injured and the question is whether the injury was intentional or accidental, his statement as that time as to the way he was injured can be proved by himself. Where the question is whether a person received a stolen property with knowledge that it was stolen. In order to prove that he did not have guilty knowledge, he offers to prove that he refused to sell the property below its value or natural price. His statement explains the state of his mind and is accompanied by the conduct of the refusal to sell. He may thus prove his statement2). Similarly, where a person is charged with having in possession a counterfeit coin with knowledge that it was counterfeit. He offers to prove that he consulted a skilful person on the matter and he was advised that the coin was genuine. He may prove this fact.

Exception 3 — “An admission may be proved by or on behalf of the person making it, if it is relevant otherwise than as an admission”. This exception is intended to apply to cases in which the statement is sought to be used in evidence otherwise than as an admission, for instance, as part of the res gestae, or as a statement accompanying or explaining particular conduct. Where, for example, immediately after a road accident, a person pulled up to the injured who then made a statement as to the cause of the injury. This statement may be proved by or on behalf of the injured person, it being a part of the transaction which injured him (Section 6). Where A says to B, “You have not paid back my money”, and B walks away in silence, A may prove his own statement as it has influenced the conduct of a person whose conduct is relevant (Section 8).

Oral admissions as to contents of documents

Section 22 of the Indian Evidence Act deals with “Oral admissions as to contents of documents”. This section states that “Oral admissions as to the contents of a document are not relevant, unless and until the party proposing to prove them shows that he is entitled to give secondary evidence of the contents of such document under Section 65, or unless the genuineness of the document produced is in question.”

When the question is whether a document is genuine or forged, oral admissions about this fact are relevant. A document can be proved by the primary evidence (original document) or secondary evidence (attested copies or oral account).

Oral admission as to contents of electronic records

Section 22-A of the Indian Evidence Act deals with “Oral admission as to contents of electronic records”. This section states that “Oral admissions as to the contents of electronic records are not relevant unless the genuineness of the electronic record produced is in question.”

Communication without Prejudice

Section 23 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 speaks about, “Communication without Prejudice”. It runs as follows:

“In civil cases, no admission is relevant, if it is made either upon an express condition that evidence of it is not to be given, or under circumstances from which the court can infer that the parties agreed together that evidence of it should not be given.

Explanation — Nothing in this section shall be taken to exempt any barrister, pleader or attorney from giving in evidence of any matter of which he may be compelled to give evidence under Section 126 (communication made to lawyer in furtherance of a crime)”.

Section 23 gives effect to the maxim “interest rei publcae ut finis litium” (it is in the interest of the State that there should be an end of litigation).

Section 23 applies only to civil cases. When a person makes an admission “without prejudice” i.e. upon the condition that the evidence of it shall not be given, it cannot be proved against him. The words “without prejudice” simply mean this: “I make you an offer and if you do not accept it, this letter is not to be used against me”. This protection or privilege against disclosure is intended to encourage parties to settle their differences amicably and to avoid litigation if possible.

The rule under Section 23 applies only if there is a dispute or negotiation with another, or if they are written bona fide. Section 23 does not protect all letters merely because they are headed with the words “without prejudice”. An admission made to a stranger, under whatever terms as to secrecy, is not protected by law from disclosure. When letters marked “without prejudice” are tendered in evidence, and the other party admits them (instead of objecting to them), the admission implied that the other party has waived his privilege, and such letters can then be used in a judicial proceeding.

Evidentiary value of Admissions

An admission does not constitute a conclusive proof of the facts admitted (Section 31). It is only a prima facie proof; thus, evidence can be given to disprove it. The admissions, thus, constitute a weak kind of evidence. The person against whom an admission is proved is at liberty to show that it was mistaken or untrue. But until evidence to the contrary is given an admission can safely be presumed to be true.

An admission is substantive evidence of the fact admitted and the admissions duly proved are admissible evidence irrespective of whether the party making them appears in the witness-box or not and whether that party made a statement contrary to his admissions vide “Bharat Singh v. Bhagirat3)”. Section 17 makes no distinction between an admission made by a party in his pleading and other admissions. Thus, an admission made by a person in plaint signed and verified by him may be used as evidence against him in other suits. There is no necessary requirement of the statement containing the admission having to be put to the party because it is evidence proprio vigore (of its own force).

The admissions at best only suggest inferences. The court must examine the statement inside out and before holding a party to his statements must see that the statement is clear, unequivocal and comprehensive. If a party’s admission falls short of the totality of the requisite evidence needed for legal proof of a fact in issue, such an admission would be only a truncated admission.

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  • Adv. Abhishek Gupta (Natraj Legal Solutions)
  • Delhi High Court
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See Illustration (c)
Illustration (d)
AIR 1966 SC 405

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