Section 21 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872

(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.

(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.

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(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  is, whether a certain deed is or is not forged, A affirms that it is genuine,  that it is forged.

A may prove a statement by  that the deed is genuine, and  may prove a statement by A that the deed is forged; but A cannot prove a statement by himself that the deed is genuine, nor can  prove a statement by himself that the deed is forged.

(b) 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).

(c) 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).

(d) 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.

(e) 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 skilful person to examine the coin, as he doubted whether it was counterfeit or not, and that the person did examine it and told him it was genuine.

A may prove these facts for the reasons stated in the last preceding Illustration.

Comments:

Scope:

The general rule laid down in Section 21 is that admissions are relevant and may be proved against person who makes them or by his representative-in- interest. It is quite natural that a person always makes statement in his favour even if the statement is false. The other proposition is that the statements will be used against the person who himself cannot prove his own statements. If persons are allowed to prove their statements, they will make the statement in their favour, such type of self-serving statement by party is irrelevant and cannot be regarded as evidence. The reason is that a man might bring evidence to prove the statement made by himself and take advantage from it. An admission of the party previous to the suit is relevant under section 21. Because, admissions are substantive evidence. Its weight, however, is a matter of consideration of the Court. In a case of dishonour of cheque the accused had proclaimed in his own handwriting that he had issued cheques to complainant covering value of Rs. 300 lakh and had also promised that on encashment of those cheques he would further give cheques of Rs.1.85 lakh. It has held that it amount to an admission of liability and is a sufficient proof that these cheques were issued by the accused towards his liability.

A self-serving statement by a party is irrelevant unless it comes within the exceptions in Section 21 of the Act. “If a man makes a declaration accompanying an act it is evidence, but declarations made two or three days, or a week, previous to the transaction in question cannot be evidence, otherwise it would be easy for a man to lay grounds for escaping the consequences of his wrongful acts by making such declarations.” The simple meaning is this that the statement of admission must be proved by third person other than the maker of the statement. An accused stated that he was present at the time of incident. The entire statement of the accused recorded by the Magistrate was an admission and not as a confession. Effect of admission should be considered in proper

The statement made by the accused to the police officer regarding incident which was subsequently recorded in FIR, was not a confession but it as admission of facts. When confessional first information report by the accused to a police officer it cannot be used against his in view of Section 25 of the Evidence Act.

Exceptions:

The section has appended three exceptions to the general rule that admission cannot be used by a person or his representative-in-interest:

(1) When the statement is such of a nature that it should have been relevant as dying declaration under section 32;

(2) When it consists of a statement of the existence of bodily feeling or state of mind falling under section 14.

(3) When the statement otherwise relevant falling under section 21(3).

1. Statements as dying declarations:

Section 32 of the Evidence Act lays down that the statement of persons, who are dead, or who cannot be found or who otherwise cannot be called before the court, may be proved under the circumstances mentioned in the sub-clauses (1) to (8) of that section. Thus, the statement of such persons may be proved in any proceeding to which it is relevant as between third persons under section 32. Illustrations (b) and (c) relate to the first exception. This exception is to be found in Section 95 of the Road Cess Act which lays down that returns filed by or on behalf of person shall be admissible in evidence against him but shall not be admissible in his favour.

2. Statement of mind and bodily feeling:

The statement of existence of any state of mind or body made by a person is relevant. But such statement should have been made at or about the time when such state of mind or body existed and followed by conduct. Such state of mind or body is relevant also under section 14. [Illustration (d) and (e)]. Section 14 only provides that such statements are relevant, whereas the Section 21 (b) demands that such statement must be proved on behalf of person making them. The rule laid down in this section is subjected to the provisions relating to confessions of the accused in Sections 24, 25 and 26 and also subjected to Sections 164 and 281, Cr. PC.

3. When the statement otherwise relevant:

The clause (3) of Section 21 lays down that an admission may be proved by or on behalf of a person making it if it is relevant otherwise than as an admission. The condition is that the statement must be relevant to determine the fact in issue and only previous statements are relevant.

For example, where plaintiffs sought to establish their pedigree by proving that A and B were brothers, a statement to that effect made by one of the plaintiffs long before the controversy arose, were held relevant. The statement admissible under clause (3) is also relevant under sections 6 to 13 and 34 and 35 of the Evidence Act. The statement of A in a previous proceeding that B was a tenant of the property in dispute is an admission and can be used when in the later proceeding he denied that fact.