Difference Between Confession and Admission

When it comes to the law of evidence knowing the difference between confession and admission is essential as they have varying degrees of importance when submitted as proof.


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Confession vs Admission

The difference between confession and admission is that confession refers to a voluntary statement made by the person who has been accused of committing a crime. It is a direct acknowledgment of guilt by the accused. On the other hand, admission, while also being a voluntary statement, is merely the acknowledgment that a particular fact is true.

Confession vs Admission

It can be made by any of the concerned parties.The concept has also been defined under Section 17 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.


Comparison Table

Parameter Of ComparisonConfessionAdmission
DefinitionA voluntary statement by the accused which is a direct acknowledgement of their guilt.Acknowledgement of a fact in issue or a relevant fact
Made byAccusedAny party to the proceedings or their agent or even by a third party
ProceedingsCriminalBoth civil and criminal
Degree Of ProofConclusiveSubstantive evidence but not conclusive proof
RetractabilityCan be retractedCannot be retracted


What is Confession?

When the accused in a case makes a direct acknowledgment of their guilt that statement is called a confession.

This is based on the premise that no one will falsely admit to being guilty of an offence.A confession can also be later retracted.

A confession must be a direct statement and not merely an inference from the words of the accused.

It must be made voluntarily and without any form of coercion being used.

While a conviction cannot rely solely on a confession it can be used to corroborate other pieces of evidence.

The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 does not define confession but it lays down certain conditions that must be fulfilled for a confession to be accepted as evidence and also explains the circumstances under which a confession will be relevant.

Under Section 24, the Act mandates that a confession will be relevant only if it is not made under any threat or inducement from the authorities.

In keeping with this principle, Section 25 lays down that if the confession is made to the police while the accused is in their custody it will not be relevant.

However, a confession made to the police can be accepted if it is done in front of a Magistrate as the presence of the Magistrate will ensure the safety of the accused.

This has been stated in Section 26 of the Act.

Similarly, if a confession is made while in the custody of a police officer which leads to a fact being proved Section 27 allows for that confession so far as it relates to the proven fact to be presumed as true.

Section 28 also allows for a confession made in police custody to be held relevant if the court feels that all the forces that could threaten, induce, or make promises have been removed.

Even if the accused made the confession because they were promised secrecy or when they were drunk or when they wear unaware that the police could overhear them speaking, it will be considered relevant as laid down by Section 29.

There are two types of confession–judicial and extra-judicial.

The former refers to a confession made in Court during the trial or one made to a Magistrate as per Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

If a confession is made outside of court proceedings and not in the presence of a Magistrate it is called an extra-judicial confession.

The simple act of the accused admitting their guilt out loud in front of bystanders can be taken as a confession if it can be proven using corroborative evidence.


What is Admission?

Admission is defined under Section 17 of the Act as “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.”

While admission also refers to a voluntary acknowledgment of a fact, the definition is far more expansive than that of confession.

Section 18 holds that a statement made by a party to the proceeding or their agent is an admission.Thus it can be made by any party and not just the accused.

In the case of a third party making a statement, if a party’s liability depends on the liability of that third party to the suit, then that statement can be considered as an admission according to Section 19.

This is an exception to the principle that only parties to the suit can make admissions.

Section 20 also provides an exception to the aforementioned principle as it allows statements made by third parties to be treated as admissions if they have been expressly referred for information by a party to the suit.

The Act lays down that admission is relevant under Section 21.

It further allows for it to be proved only against the person making it or against their agent.

However, the section also describes the exceptional situations in which admission can be proved by the person making it or by his agent.  

Once admission is made, the maker is bound by what they have said.It must be voluntary and not made under any form of threat of coercion.

There are two types of admission.Judicial admissions are made by parties during the proceedings in Court and they are completely binding on the parties.

Extra judicial admissions are informal and made outside of the proceedings in court.

Since extra judicial admissions are not made through a formal procedure, they cannot be made completely binding.

They operate only in so far as they can be used as estoppel.

Moreover, they are not made part of the case records.


Main Differences Between Confession and Admission

  1. Confession is a voluntary statement by the accused directly acknowledging their guilt.
  2. Admission is a voluntary statement of a fact in issue or a relevant fact.
  3. Confession can only be made by the accused.
  4. Admission can be made by any party to the proceedings of a case or their agent, and in certain circumstances, by third parties as well.
  5. Confessions can only be made in criminal proceedings.
  6. Admissions can be made in both civil and criminal proceedings.  
Difference Between Confession and Admission


  1. https://www.juridicainternational.eu/public/pdf/ji_2004_1_116.pdf
  2. https://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3642&context=jclc
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