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Courts Duty-bound to Examine Veracity if More Than One Dying Declarations Made, Says SC

The apex court was hearing an appeal by a CRPF personnel who was awarded the life imprisonment for killing his wife. She had recorded three dying declarations.


Updated:September 9, 2019, 9:25 PM IST
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New Delhi: If a person records contradictory "dying declarations", courts are duty-bound to "carefully" examine the veracity of the statements, the Supreme Court has said.

The apex court was hearing an appeal by a CRPF personnel who was awarded the life imprisonment for killing his wife. She had recorded three dying declarations."Dying declaration" is the statement recorded by a victim of the crime, who later dies, about the offender and the motive of the offence.

Such a testimony, if unequivocal, is regarded as the most credible proof to nail the accused under the law.

The credibility of the dying declaration is premised on the principle that a dying person does not lie.

The CRPF personnel was awarded the the life term for setting ablaze his wife on January 24, 2008 here after pouring kerosene on her. The convict had an extra-marital affair with his brother's wife.

The woman, who suffered severe burn injuries, had recorded three dying declarations at a hospital bed before succumbing to the wounds.

She did not name her husband as the culprit in her first two statements which were recorded in his presence, but she named him as the offender in the last dying declaration and gave all the details.

A bench of Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph dealt in detail the law on evidence on dying declaration and held that if there were more than one such statements, the court was required to carefully examine the entire materials and circumstances to arrive at the guilt of the offender.

"We would think that on a conspectus of the law as laid down by this court, when there are more than one dying declaration, and in the earlier dying declaration, the accused is not sought to be roped in but in the later dying declaration, a summersault is made by the deceased, the case must be decided on the facts of each case.

"The court will not be relived of its duty to carefully examine the entirety of materials as also the circumstances surrounding the making of the different dying declarations," Justice Joseph, writing the judgement, said.

The apex court held the incriminatory dying declaration can be acted upon if the court finds that it brings out truthful position particularly in conjunction with the capacity of deceased to make such declaration.

And the voluntariness with which it was made which involves no doubt, ruling out tutoring and prompting and also the other evidence which support the contents of such declaration, it said.

The court dismissed the appeal of convict Jagbir Singh by believing the last dying declaration of his deceased wife and said that she gave all details about the offence in her last testimony.

Referring to the details of the last dying declaration, it said the motive of the Singh to kill her has been stated by the victim as he had illicit relations with his sister-in-law.

"She has also spoken about differences which she had with her husband and the settlement which had taken place in the Panchayat. Mother of the deceased has also spoken about the affair, which appellant had with his sister-in-law. Thus, the motive attributed to the appellant by the deceased, is not the figment of her imagination. She is very coherent and clear in this regard," it said.

Singh has been convicted for the offences of murder and criminal intimidation.

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