HC Deb 28 July 1914 vol 65 cc1094-5
15 and 16. Sir WILLIAM BYLES

asked the Under Secretary of State for India (1) whether the Secretary of State has yet come to any decision either to abolish or perpetuate the existing practice in India under which accused persons alleged to have confessed their guilt to the police are liable to have their confessions recorded by a magistrate and then used against them at their trial, without being given any opportunity of examining or cross-examining the policeman to whom they are alleged to have confessed; and (2) whether it is the intention of the Secretary of State to sanction the continuance of the system of committing accused or suspected persons in India to the personal custody of the police who are investigating the crime and to allow them to remain in that custody for as long as fifteen days and to be interrogated by the police for the purpose of eliciting a confession of guilt to be afterwards recorded and used against the prisoners at their trial?


Under Indian law the police are not permitted to interrogate a prisoner with a view to eliciting a confession, and a confession made to the police may not be recorded or admitted in evidence. There is thus no question of examining or cross-examining a police officer with regard to an alleged confession. The question of the treatment of confessions voluntarily made to magistrates before trial, including the remand to police custody of the accused, is still under consideration in connection with the revision of the Criminal Procedure Code.


Has not this question been under consideration for over two years, and how soon will a decision be reached?


I think it has been under consideration for about that time, but careful opinions have been collected of the various local governments of India, and that takes time.


Have not these quaint and un-English judicial methods the direct effect of encouraging torture by the police in order to elicit evidence, and are any really strong steps being taken by the India Office to put a stop entirely to this practice of torture?


No, Sir. The Indian law is much stricter in its precautions to defend accused persons than the English law. Every effort as the hon. Member knows perfectly well, is made to root out the practice.