A Comprehensive study about Dying Declaration
The article 'A Comprehensive study about Dying Declaration' elucidates definitions, types and various case laws emphasizing dying declaration.
The article 'A Comprehensive study about Dying Declaration' elucidates definitions, types and case laws emphasizing dying declaration. The article also contains a distinction between Indian and English Law.
In cases where the cause of the person's death is disputed, Section 32 (1) of the Indian Evidence Act defines when the person makes a statement as the cause of his death or as any of the conditions of the transaction that led to his loss of life. Whatever the type of process in which the cause of the person's death is disputed, such remarks made by the person are relevant whether the person who made them was alive or not at the time they were made, with the anticipation of death.
The deceased person's statement will be considered evidence and admissible in court. Nemo Mariturus Presumuntur Mentri, which means that a man would not like to meet his maker with a lie in his mouth, is a Latin proverb that can be used as justification for this. Under our Indian law, it is more specifically the rule that a dying person is never allowed to lie or speak anything other than the truth. As a result, the Dying Declaration can be utilised as a tool to punish the offender in court and is acceptable as evidence.
Traditional hearsay testimony is acknowledged to be an exception in cases of dying declarations. In most cases, hearsay evidence—which is not direct evidence—is not admissible in court. A dying person explains the circumstances surrounding their untimely, unexpected death in a dying declaration. Although it has been acknowledged that the dying person's final remarks about dying are meaningful evidence, they cannot be cross-examined. An exception to the hearsay rule honours the dying person's desire to obtain justice by testifying in his own trial even after his passing.
A man is never permitted to tell a falsehood on his deathbed because he is afraid of God, who would subject him to an eternal trial for the actions he performed on earth.
When the person makes the statement as the cause of his death, or as any of the circumstances of the transaction which led to his loss of life, in cases where the cause of that person's death is disputed, is defined under Section 32 (1) of the Indian Evidence Act. Whether the individual who made the statements was alive or not, expecting to die at the time they were made, and regardless of the nature of the process in which the cause of his death is contested, the words are relevant.
Types of Dying declaration
One can make a deathbed proclamation in any of the following ways:
1. Gestures and Signs form.
2. Written form,
3. Verbal form
In the case Queen v. Abdullah,(1885) ILR 7 All 385, it was decided that if a person is injured and unable to talk, he can still make a deathbed statement by using signs and gestures as a response.
If a person is unable to speak or write, he or she can still express a yes or no by nodding, and such a declaration is acceptable even in the case of death. It is best if it is written in the language that the patient speaks and understands. Narratives may be used as a dying declaration. When a dying declaration is written down as a narrative, nothing is forced; instead, everything comes directly from the speaker's head.
Reasons for admitting dying declarations in evidence
A dying declaration that fully adheres to the "Nemo Mariturus Presumuntur Mentri" concept is admissible into evidence (man will not meet his maker with a lie in his mouth). As long as a dying declaration inspires confidence in the Court's mind and is devoid of any coaching, it does not need to be backed up by any evidence. Uka Ram v. State of Rajasthan , The court ruled in this case that a deathbed declaration is admissible if it is given in extreme circumstances. When someone is near death, all hope for this life has been lost, all reason for lying has been silenced, and their mind has been coerced to tell only the truth. A dying man "seldom lies," according to Indian law.
The fitness of the declarant should be examined
The individual making the declaration must be in a sound mental state at the moment of the pronouncement. It is risky and inappropriate to rely on a dying declaration if the court has even the slightest doubts about the maker's mental stability.
The victim's failure to mention the accused's injuries in his dying declaration is not a legitimate factor in determining whether or not the dying declaration is credible. The doctor's failure to say that the patient was in a fit mental condition and was cognizant the entire time would not matter in cases where the doctor himself verified that the patient was in a fit condition to make the statement.
A medical report revealed that the deceased's larynx and trachea were scorched by heat, as per the case of Rajeev Kumar v. State of Haryana . It was made clear that a person cannot talk when their larynx and trachea have burned, but they can speak while they are burning. According to the second medical perspective, if a person's vocal cords or larynx are damaged, he or she may still be able to speak, but it will be challenging to understand what they are saying. The deceased was capable of speaking at the time the dying declaration was recorded, according to the medical report of two, and the court may rely on that evidence.
Who should record dying the declaration?
Anybody, including a police officer, has the ability to register a pronouncement of death. But, if it is documented by a judicial magistrate, it will be more trustworthy and strong.
Any person may record the dying pronouncement made by the deceased, but the person making the recording must have some connection to the deceased, either directly or indirectly, through some fact or circumstance. The value of a doctor or police officer is higher than that of the average individual. As far as the dying declaration is concerned, the magistrate was given the responsibility of recording it because the statement he took is thought to be more credible than the statements made by the doctor, the police officer, and the average citizen.
At least in situations when the person dies from burn injuries, the Supreme Court has determined that this is accurate in law. In overturning the high court's decision in the dowry death acquittal case, a bench of Justices B S Chauhan and Dipak Misra stated that
"the law on the issue can be summarised to the effect that the law does not give any direction that who can record a dying declaration but just provided that the magistrate is above all the person in the subject for recording the statement, nor is there any definite form, format, or procedure for the same."
The person who documents the deathbed declaration must be confident that the maker is conscious and in a sound mental state at the time.
Language of statements
In terms of the statement's wording, it should be written in the deceased's native tongue or, if possible, in a language other than court terminology. The wording used in the dying declaration cannot be used by the court to reject it. In any language, it can be recorded. Even if the deceased make a dying declaration in Urdu, Hindi, or Punjabi, it was believed that the statement could not be disproved only on the basis of the language in which it was uttered or on the basis that it was recorded in Urdu.
The declaration must be prepared in the deceased's original language or, if at all possible, in a language other than legalese. The court cannot reject the deathbed declaration based on the language employed in it. It can be recorded in any language. Even if the deceased makes a remark before passing away in Urdu, Hindi, or Punjabi, it was thought that the statement could not be refuted only on the grounds that it was spoken or written in Urdu.
Multiple dying Declaration
If there is no breakdown of fact in any one of the several deathbed declarations, the Supreme Court of India may consider it without confirmation. If all of the dying declarations are consistent with one another, accurately identify the cause of death, and there are no contradictions, they can be considered acceptable. The court will cross-examine the facts of the case or can look through the statements of other witnesses to ascertain the veracity and sanctity of the declaration with regard to the case. However, if the dying declarations differ from one another and there is a dispute between them.
The deceased's statement needs to be consistent with the case's facts and circumstances. Understanding the personality of several dying declarations is crucial. Factors to take into account while making numerous dying declarations
- Every dying declaration ought to be consistent.
- The court will review the facts of the case along with the dying declaration or question the witnesses if all of the dying declarations do not match or overlap.
F.I.R as Dying Declaration
It is crucial to record a circumstantial dying declaration when a person passes away after an F.I.R. was filed declaring that his life was in danger. The Supreme Court of India noted that a statement made by an injured person recorded as an FIR might be regarded as a dying declaration and that such a declaration is acceptable under Section 32 of the Indian Evidence Act as held in the case of Munnu Raja and others v. State of M.P. The court further noted that a dying declaration should not recount the entire incident or the details of the case. In this case, supporting evidence is not required; the dying pronouncement may be deemed the only piece of evidence used to support a conviction.
If the declarant does not die
When the deceased's last will and testament are documented. Yet, the issue of whether the dying proclamation still has the same impact after being recorded and whether the deceased person is still alive emerges. In such instances, the deceased took on the role of a witness against the accused in order to recount the true events. It is important that the declarant have an anticipation of dying because the dying declaration itself used the word dying.
Distinction between Indian and English Law
According to English law, the declarant must have had a concrete, hopeless expectation of dying, though he need not have been anticipating an early demise, in order for the dying declaration to be admissible.
Such limitations are not there under Indian law. Indian law does not specify that the maker must have a reasonable expectation of dying soon or that it must be a homicide. It must be established that the maker of a dying declaration is deceased before it may be accepted. If the maker lives, it might be used to support or refute his testimony in court.
Important Case Laws
K.R. Reddy v. Public Prosecutor , the following were found to be the dying declaration's evidentiary value:
The dying declaration is unquestionably admissible under section 32, but because it wasn't made under oath so that its veracity could be examined by a witness, the court had to examine it closely before taking any action. Although the words of a dying man are held in high regard because a person who is close to passing away is unlikely to tell lies or link a case in such a way as to accuse an innocent person, the court must be on guard against the statement of the deceased being the result of either tutoring, prompting, or a creation of his imagination.
The court must be convinced that the deceased was in a sound state of mind when he made the statement, that he had a clear opportunity to see and identify his attackers, and that he was speaking freely and without being under any duress. If the court determines that the dying declaration is genuine and voluntary, it may be enough to uphold the conviction even in the absence of additional evidence.
Khushal Rao v. State of Bombay , following guidelines for a declaration of "dying to die" was established by the Apex Court:
(i) A dying declaration can be the only legal justification for a conviction if it is supported by other evidence, although this is not an absolute rule of law. A true and voluntary declaration requires no supporting evidence.
(ii) No evidence, including a deathbed declaration, is weaker than any other;
(iii) Each case must be decided based on its unique facts while taking into account the circumstances surrounding the pronouncement of death.
(iv) A dying declaration has the same weight as other pieces of evidence and must be evaluated in the context of all the relevant facts and in accordance with the rule regulating the weight of the evidence.
(v) A dying declaration that has been properly recorded by a competent Magistrate—that is, in the form of questions and answers and, to the extent possible, in the maker's own words—stands on a much higher footing than one that depends on oral testimony, which may be subject to all the flaws in human memory and character.
(vi) The court must take into account factors including the dying man's ability to be observed while determining whether a dying declaration is reliable.
A dying statement is an important piece of evidence because it records the deceased's last words in relation to their causes of death or the circumstances that led to their passing. Every effort should be taken to keep it clean and free of impurities of any kind.
However, due to a variety of factors, including the mental state of the person making the declaration, the mental state of the person who is reporting it, the overall circumstances of the dying presentation, common and customary human errors in observing things and in communicating everything that must be communicated to others in particular, human character and standards of conduct cannot completely eliminate the risk of demolishing dying declarations.
When these facts, along with the circumstances discussed above and the waning confidence in the remaining aspects of the dying declarations, are taken into consideration, it is very likely that the dying declarations will be accepted as evidence after proper verification and in the wake of confirming the general circumstances that led to them.
In modern times, it is not protected to grant sacred status to death pronouncements, to base a case's discoveries purely on its premise, or to decide the outcome of cases and criminal investigations solely on its premise by the Courts, or even by Investigative agencies.
 Appeal (Crl) 749 of 2000
 Criminal Appeal No. 967 of 2005
 1976 AIR 2199, 1976 SCR (2) 764
 1976 AIR 1994, 1976 SCR 542
 1958 AIR 22, 1958 SCR 552