Dying Declaration Can Be Sole Basis For Conviction Only When Court Is Satisfied That It Is True And Voluntary, Reiterates Supreme Court
Case: Jayamma vs. State of Karnataka
Coram: CJI NV Ramana, Justices Surya Kant and Aniruddha Bose
Case No: [CrA 758 OF 2010]
Court Observation: It goes without saying that when the dying declaration has been recorded in accordance with the law, and it gives a cogent and plausible explanation of the occurrence, the Court can rely upon it as the solitary piece of evidence to convict the accused. It is for this reason that Section 32 of the Evidence Act, 1872 is an exception to the general rule against the admissibility of hearsay evidence and Clause (1) makes the statement of the decease admissible. Such a statement, classified as a “dying declaration” is made by a person as to the cause of his death or as to the injuries which culminated to his death or the circumstances under which injuries were inflicted. A
dying declaration is thus admitted in evidence on the premise that the anticipation of brewing death breeds the same human feelings as that of a conscientious and guiltless person under oath. It is a statement comprising of the last words of a person before his death which is presumed to be truthful, and not infected by any motive or malice. The dying declaration is therefore admissible in evidence on the principle of necessity as there is very little hope of survival of the maker, and if found reliable, it can certainly form the basis for conviction.
Although there is neither a rule of law nor of prudence that the dying declaration cannot be acted upon without corroboration, the Court must nonetheless be satisfied that the dying declaration is true and voluntary, and only then could it be the sole basis for conviction without corroboration.
It is common knowledge that such Officers are judicially trained to record dying declarations after complying with all the mandatory pre-requisites, including certification or endorsement from the Medical Officer that the victim was in a fit state of mind to make a statement. We hasten to add that the law does not compulsorily require the presence of a Judicial or Executive Magistrate to record a dying declaration or that a dying declaration cannot be relied upon as the solitary piece of evidence unless recorded by a Judicial or Executive Magistrate. It is only as a rule of prudence, and if so permitted by the facts and circumstances, the dying declaration may preferably be recorded by a Judicial or Executive Magistrate so as to muster additional strength to the prosecution case”, the bench observed while setting aside the conviction of the accused.