Sunday, 23 January 2022

Dying Declaration Under the Indian Evidence Act

 Dying Declaration Under the Indian Evidence Act, 1872: At a quick Glance


  • What is a dying declaration?

The term "dying declaration" is not properly defined in the Act. It means s declaration made by a person through verbal communications, signs, conduct, or writing soon prior to his death or while he is on his death bed.

  • Relevant provision

Section 32 (1) of the Evidence Act deals with the admissibility of the dying declaration. It states that s statement whether verbal or written made by a person:

  1. Who is dead,

  2. Who cannot be found,

  3. whose presence is not possible in court without arbitrary delay is admissible when it relates to the reason of death.


  • Essentials of dying declaration

  1. The dying declaration must connect with the reason for his death only or refer to the situation/transaction which caused his death.

  2. The person making the declaration must be found dead after making such a statement. In case the person isn't found dead, the statement fails to be called a dying declaration and it might rather be considered as a statement under section 154 Cr.P.C. and 161 Cr.P.C.

  3. There much be the closeness in time in making the declaration and the time of death. This is very necessary while deciding whether the statement will fall in this category or not.

  4. The declarant must be mentally well and should be fully aware and be able to analyze the results of making his statement while giving it. It isn't important that the fact of mental fitness be approved by the doctor, however, if there is a medical certificate, then it proves to be more efficient and effective.

  5. A dying declaration can be made to any person: a magistrate, a doctor, police personnel, a friend, or any other person. However, if it is recorded under a magistrate then it is considered more authentic and reliable.

  6. The statement must not be vague and be complete. An incomplete statement will leave a loophole and more chances of fabrication thus, an incomplete statement will not be admissible.

  7. The declarant must be capable as a witness. 

  8. It is not important that the declarant is under the prediction of death while giving the statement.


  • Other important points

  • The term dying declaration is based on the maxim "Nemo moriturus presumuntur mentri" which means no one on the death bed is considered to be lying.

  • The dying declaration should be voluntary.

  • The person to whom statement/declaration is made or who records such declaration is known as a scribe.

  • As of the usual rule, hearsay evidence is irrelevant under the Indian Evidence Act. An exception of the hearsay rule is a dying declaration.

  • There is no rule of law that states that no conviction can be entirely based on the grounds of a dying declaration unless it is established with independent evidence. Thus, where a statement is full and reliable to the satisfaction of the courts, the courts can condemn a person on the grounds of a dying declaration.

  • The courts must work with caution while depending on a dying declaration as such statement is indirect but coming from a person who has either written or heard it, therefore there are chances of manipulation/filtration in the statement.

  • Dying declaration helps safeguard conviction in cases like dowry deaths, etc, where unambiguous evidence isn't available.

  • The statement must be explanatory as to the reason for the death of the declarant.

  • Such a statement is relevant in both civil and criminal proceedings.

  • A suicide note is not considered a dying declaration.

  • A signature of the declarant isn't necessary on the declaration. But it is effective to turn the statement into writing and a getting declarant's signator on it so as to reduce the chances of unnecessary exaggerations.

  • Where there is more than one dying declaration, then it is the liability of the Court to observe and scrutinize which of the declaration it should depend on.


  • FIR and Complaint as a dying declaration

An injured informant who gives a statement to the police as to the committing of an offense and dies after that, such statement can be considered as a dying declaration if it connects with the reason for the informant's death.

In a similar manner, a complaint by a person can be called a dying declaration if he dies after reporting the complaint and the complaint related to the cause of his death.


  • Relevant case laws

  1. Queen Empress v. Abdullah

This is one of the prominent case laws on the concept of dying declaration in which it has stated that there is no specific form of recording dying declaration. It can be through signs, conduct, or gestures as well.


  1. Khushal Rao v. the State of Bombay

The Supreme Court followed the principles established by the Privy Council in the case of Pakala Narayan Swami v, Emperor, which consists inter alia the following:

  • A dying declaration is not a fragile kind of evidence.

  • A dying declaration cannot be compared with the confession of a co-accused as it may not come from fabricated sources.

  • The importance of corroboration doesn't rise from the frangibleness of a dying declaration but from the fact that in a specific case, the specific declaration is not free from affliction.

 


Written by Parul Sharma.


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