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Dying Declaration

  • 23 Jul 2021
  • 5 min read

Why in News

Recently, a special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court awarded two policemen life sentences for the custodial death of a murder accused on the basis of the ‘Dying Declaration’ made by the victim prior to his death.

  • CBI is the premier investigating police agency in India. It functions under the superintendence of the Deptt. of Personnel, Ministry of Personnel, Pension & Public Grievances - which falls under the prime minister’s office.

Key Points

  • About:
    • Section-32(1) of Indian Evidence Act, 1872, defines dying declaration as a statement written or verbal of relevant facts made by a person, who is dead. It is the statement of a person who had died explaining the circumstances of his death.
      • This is based on the maxim ‘nemo mariturus presumuntur mentri’ i.e. a man will not meet his maker with a lie on his mouth.
    • The general rule under Section 60 of the Act is that all oral evidence must be direct - he heard it, saw it or perceived it.
  • Rules for Admission of Dying Declaration:
    • The grounds of admission under a dying declaration have been based on two broad rules:
      • The victim being generally the only principal eye-witness to the crime.
      • The sense of impending death, which creates a sanction equal to the obligation of an oath in a court.
  • Recording Dying Declaration:
    • Anyone can record the dying declaration of the deceased as per law. However, a dying declaration recorded by a Judicial or Executive Magistrate will add an additional strength to the prosecution case.
      • A dying declaration may in several cases be the “primary piece of evidence to prove the genesis of occurrence”.
    • The only requirement for such a declaration to be held perfectly accountable in court is for the victim to volunteer the statement and be of conscious mind.
      • The person who records the dying declaration must be satisfied that the victim is in a fit state of mind.
  • Situations Where Court Does Not Accept it as a Evidence:
    • Though a dying declaration is entitled to great weight, the accused has no power of cross-examination.
      • This is the reason the courts have always insisted that the dying declaration be of such a nature as to inspire full confidence of the court in its correctness.
    • The courts are on guard to check if the statement of the deceased was a result of either tutoring, prompting or a product of imagination.
  • Need of Corroboration (Supporting Evidence):
    • Several judgments have noted that it is neither rule of law nor of prudence that dying declaration cannot be acted upon without corroboration.
      • If the court is satisfied that the dying declaration is true and voluntary it can base conviction on it, without corroboration.
    • Where a dying declaration is suspicious, it should not be acted upon without corroborative evidence because a dying declaration does not contain the details as to the occurrence.
      • It is not to be rejected, equally merely because it is a brief statement. On the contrary, the shortness of the statement itself guarantees truth.
  • Validity of Medical Opinion:
    • Normally the court, in order to satisfy whether the deceased was in a fit mental condition to make the dying declaration, can look up the medical opinion.
    • But where the eye witness has said that the deceased was in a fit and conscious state to make this dying declaration, the medical opinion cannot prevail.

Source: IE

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