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In this blogpost, Sudhi Ranjan Bagri, student, National Law Institute University, Bhopal, writes about what is admission, persons whose admission are relevant and party to the proccedings.


Admission means stating something which is against the interest of the person making such admission. Hence, the general rule is, that admission must be self-harming; and because any person would refrain from making such statements which are self-harming unless it is true, hence such admissions are received as evidence in a court of law.

Admissions as defined in Section 17.

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 Section 17 says

            “An admission is a statement[1], oral or documentary (or contained in electronic form) which suggests any interference 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 facts which is of such a nature that it waives the necessity of producing evidence and that the fact asserted by the opponent is true. Admissions are admitted because the conduct of a party to a proceeding, in respect to the matter in dispute, whether by acts, speech, or writing, which is clearly inconsistent with the truth of his contention, is a fact relevant to the issue. The admissions are very weak kind of evidence, and thus, the court may out rightly reject them if it is satisfied that they are untrue.

The Supreme Court has observed: Admissions which are defined in Sections 17 and 20 and which fulfill the mandatory requirements of Section 21 of the Indian Evidence Act, are substantive evidence. The Court has in various cases held that an admission is the best evidence against the party making it and though not conclusive, shifts the onus to the maker. This shift in onus is due to the principle that what a party himself admits to be true may be reasonably presumed to be true and therefore unless the presumption is rebutted the admission must be taken to be true.

 There is this observation in Phipson on evidence “Subject to certain exceptions, the general rule, that both in civil and criminal cases, is that any relevant statement made by a party is evidence against him. R. v. Erdheim[2]. The weight of the declaration is, of course, a totally different matter; this may vary with the circumstances and will not doubt, be greater if against interest at the time, than the contrary.”

In E.C.T. Farming Society Case[3], Beg, J. of the Supreme Court observed: It is well settled that the effect of an admission depends upon the circumstances in which it was made.

A statement to be used as an admission must be clear, specific and unambiguous and in the own words of the person making it and has to be proved to be so. It is not an interference drawn by anybody which should be taken as an admission. An admission to be worthy of being received in evidence, considered and relied upon, it should firstly be the clear-cut and accurate statement of that very person in his own works. It has to be proved to be the statement of the person who made it[4].

An admission must be examined as a whole and not in parts[5]. Statements in pleadings are admissions against the party making them. He cannot be allowed to rely upon favourable parts and throw the rest by oral evidence. In Union of India v. Moksh Builders etc.[6], Court stated that an admission is substantive evidence of the fact admitted and when properly proved is relevant irrespective of the fact whether the person making such admission made it in witness-box or not and whether he was confronted with those statements or not in case he made a statement contrary to his admissions. The court cited a statement from WIGMORE ON EVIDENCE to the effect that an admission need not be contrary to the maker’s interest. Thus it is not necessary before admitting the evidence of an admission that it should be brought to the notice of the party who made it.

It is immaterial to whom an admission is made. An admission made to a stranger is relevant. In English law, the term admission and confession are used distinctly to cover different situations. The term ‘admission’ is used while dealing with civil cases, whereas the term ‘confession’ is used while dealing with criminal cases so as to mean ‘the acknowledgement of guilt’. This distinction is not maintained in the Indian Evidence Act, and Sections 17 to 22 are applicable to civil as well as criminal cases. Statements by the accused are admissions under ss. 17 and 18, and prima facie evidence against the maker, but not in his favour[7]. The word ‘confession’ has not been defined anywhere. The statement is a genus; admission is the species and confession is the sub-species. A confession, therefore, is a statement made by an accused admitting his guilt[8]. When a party accepts his statement made in earlier proceedings, it amounts to an admission.

Persons whose admissions are relevant

List of persons whose admissions are relevant is to be found in the provisions of sections 18 to 20. Admissions made by any other persons are not receivable in evidence. Thus, the statements of some officers admitting their guilt that lesser number of persons were shown on records of the factory so as to keep it out of the application of the Central Excise was held to be not an admission against the owner.

There are seven classes of persons who can make admissions-

  1. Party to the proceeding (Section 18)
  2. Agent authorized by such party (Section 18)
  3. Party suing or sued in a representative character (Section 18)
  4. Person who has any proprietary or pecuniary interest (Section 18)
  5. Persons from whom the parties to the suit have derived their interest in the subject-matter of the suit. (Section 18)
  6. A person whose position is in issue or is relevant. (Section 19)
  7. Persons expressly referred by the party to suit. (Section 20)

Party to the proceeding

What is admitted by a party to be true must be presumed to be true unless the contrary is shown; but before this proposition can be invoked, it must be shown that there is a clear and unambiguous statement by the party such as will be conclusive unless explained. Irrespective of the nature of the proceedings (i.e. could be either civil or criminal) any statement which was made by a party in a former suit is admissible irrespective of the fact that the opposite parties were same or different. However, any statement which is made by a party in a pleading cannot be used as evidence in subsequent proceedings before a court of law unless it amounts to an admission[9].

“When several persons are jointly interested in the subject -matter of the suit, the general rule is that the admissions of any one of these persons are receivable against himself and fellows, whether they be all jointly suing or sued, or whether an action be brought in favour of or against one or more of them separately, provided the admissions relate to the subject- matter in dispute, and be made by the declaring in his character of a person jointly interested with the party against whom the evidence is tendered.”[10] Admissions made by a party’s witness cannot be treated as admissions made by the party. Such admissions do not bind the party.

Agent authorized by such party

The admissions of an agent are admissible because the principal is bound by the acts of his agent done in the course of business and within the scope of his authority. A statement made by an agent whom the court regards, under the circumstances of the case, as expressly or impliedly authorized to make it, is admissible though not on oath[11], e.g., a statement by an agent before a settlement officer that his principal was a bastard. Before the statements of an agent can be relevant as admissions, the facts of the agency must be proved. Where there is no such relationship, the statement in question would not qualify for relevancy. Thus, where over a matter of sub-letting, the tenant’s brother stated on affidavit before Income-tax Authorities that he was the tenant, there being no agency relationship between the two brothers, nor there being the signature of the tenant, the Supreme Court held that the statement was not admissible against the tenant[12].

Party suing or sued in a representative character

This means trustees, executors, administrators, managers in the character of an executor or administrator, or the assignee of a bankrupt.

It is important that such persons must make ‘the statement in their character of persons so interested’. A statement made by a trustee, executor or administrator, is not admissible against him when sued as trustee, etc., if it was made before he became trustee, etc. this principle is grounded on the fact that a statement against the interest of a person making it will not be made unless truth compelled it. But the fact that two persons have a common interest in the subject –matter does not entitle them to make admissions, respecting it, as against each other[13].

Person who has any proprietary or pecuniary interest

In cases where several persons are jointly interested in the subject matter of a suit, an admission by any of those persons is receivable not only against himself but also against the other defendants. However, before taking such admission as evidence, it is required to be proved that the admission relates to the subject-matter which is in dispute in the suit, and that such admission has been made by the person while he was in his character of a person jointly interested with the person against whom such admission is being tendered as an evidence. In a suit for declaration of title, a statement by the suitor’s father that the defendant was in possession was admitted. Admissions made by a person about his ownership of the property after he had transferred it are not relevant to the prejudice of the buyer’s interest. After transfer, he no longer had any interest in the property. In a tenancy matter, an admission made by the tenant’s brother was not relevant because he had no pecuniary or proprietary interest in the matter of the tenancy. Admission by a party is not possible after parting with his interest in the property[14].

Persons from whom the parties to the suit have derived their interest in the subject-matter of the suit.

Statements made either by parties interested or by persons from whom the parties to the suit have derived their interest are admissions only if they are made during the continuance of the interest of the persons making the statements. The admissions of a former owner of the property after he has ceased to have any interest in it are not evidence against the party in possession. Z, a landowner, filed a suit for ejectment against B, a tenant. B alleged he was a permanent tenant at a fixed rent under an agreement with the original owner of the land, who was dead, and put in evidence statements made by the original owner of the land, who was dead. It was held that the statements were inadmissible. Where the deceased father of the plaintiff admitted that the defendant was his second legally wedded wife and her children were his legitimate children, the admission was binding on the plaintiff[15].

Person whose position is in issue or is relevant

The admission of a third person against his own interest when it affects his position or liability and when that position or liability has to be proved as against a party to the suit is relevant against the party. Ordinary statements by strangers to a proceeding are not relevant as against the parties. This section is in a way an exception to the general rule that statements which are made by strangers to a proceeding are not admissible as against the parties.[16]

Persons expressly referred by the party to suit.

This section forms another exception to the rule that admissions by strangers to a suit are not relevant. Under it, the admissions of a third person is also receivable in evidence against, and have frequently been held to be in fact binding upon, the party who has expressly referred another to him for information in regard to an uncertain or disputed matter[17]. If a reference is made over a disputed matter to a third person, not in the nature of a submission to arbitration, but rather as an aid to the settlement of the differences existing between the parties and to enable the parties themselves to effect a settlement on the information, in such cases the party is bound by the declaration of the person referred to in the same manner and to the same extent as if it was made by himself[18]

[1] Abdul Shakur Khan v. R. D. Tyagi, 1999 Cr LJ 1524 (Bom)

[2] (1986) 2 QB 260

[3] AIR 1974 SC 1121

[4] H.G. Ramachandra Rao v. Master Srikantha, AIR 1997 Kant 347

[5] Dharamwati Bai v. Shiv Singh, AIR 1991 MP 18

[6] AIR 1977 SC 408

[7] Azimuddy v. Emperor, (1926) 54 Cal 237

[8] Sahoo v. State of U.P.,  AIR 1966 SC 40

[9] Raj Kumar v. Gopi Nath, AIR 1971 All 273

[10] Taylor, 12th Edn., s. 743, p. 475

[11] Govindji v. Chhotalal, (1900) 2 Bom LR 651

[12] Sri Chand Gupta v. Gulzar Singh, AIR 1992 SC 123

[13] STEPHEN’S DIG., Art. 1

[14] Chironjilal v. Khatoon Bi, AIR 1995 MP 238

[15] Nirmala v. Rukminibai, AIR 1994 Kant 247

[16] Appavu Chettiar v. Nanjappa Goundan, (1913) 25 MLJ 329

[17] Taylor, 12th Edn., s. 760, p. 485

[18] Sloman v Herne, (1799) 2 Esp. 695


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