Statement of Accused Admissible as Evidence, Even Without ‘Formal’ Police Custody: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court, in the case titled ‘Perumal Raja Vs. State Rep by Inspector of Police,’ ruled that statements made by an accused are admissible as evidence during the trial, even if the accused is not in formal police custody.


The division bench emphasised a pragmatic interpretation of the term “custody” under Section 27 of the Evidence Act, stating that it includes any form of restriction, restraint, or surveillance by the police.


Further explaining the term ‘custody’ the Supreme Court stated that “The expression ‘custody’ under Section 27 of the Evidence Act does not mean formal custody. It includes any kind of restriction, restraint or even surveillance by the police. Even if the accused was not formally arrested at the time of giving information, the accused ought to be deemed, for all practical purposes, in the custody of the police.” 


This decision appears to contradict a previous judgment [Rajesh & Anr. Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh] that insisted on formal police custody for admissibility.


The court upheld the conviction and life sentence of Perumal Raja, who had disclosed information leading to the recovery of a missing cousin’s remains, despite not being formally arrested for the cousin’s murder at the time of the disclosure. The court reasoned that a broad interpretation of “police custody” is necessary to prevent potential delays in filing FIRs and arrests. The appeal challenging the conviction and sentence was dismissed by the court.

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