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Dying declaration


“Nemo moriturus praesumitur mentire – No one at the point of death is presumed to lie.” “A man will not meet his Maker with a lie in his mouth”


Bombay High Court

Pakala Narayana Swami vs Emperor on 19 January, 1939

Statements, written or verbal, of relevant facts made by a person who is dead... are themselves relevant facts in the following cases :


(I) when the statement is made by a person as to the cause of his death, or as to any of the circumstances of the transaction which resulted in his death, in cases in which the cause of that person's death comes into question.


Such statements are relevant whether the person who made them was or was not at the time when they were made under expectation of death and whatever may be the nature of the proceeding in which the cause of his death comes into question.


A variety of questions has been mooted in the Indian Courts as to the effect of this section. It has been suggested that the statement must be made after the transaction has taken place, that the person making it must be at any rate near death, and that the "circumstances" can only include the acts done when and where the death was caused. Their Lordships are of opinion that the natural meaning of the words used does not convey any of these limitations. The statement may be made before the cause of death has arisen, or before the deceased has any reason to anticipate being killed. The circumstances must be circumstances of the transaction : general expressions indicating fear or suspicion whether of a particular individual or otherwise and not directly related to the occasion of the death will not be admissible. But statements made by the deceased that he was proceeding to the spot where he was in fact killed, or as to his reasons for so proceeding, or that he was going to meet a particular person, or that he had been invited by such person to meet him would each of them be circumstances of the transaction, and would be so whether the person was unknown, or was not the person accused. Such a statement might indeed be exculpatory of the person accused. "Circumstances of the transaction" is a phrase, no doubt, that conveys some limitations. It is not as broad as the analogous use in "circumstantial evidence" which includes evidence of all relevant facts. It is on the other hand narrower than "res gestae". Circumstances must have some proximate relation to the actual occurrence : though as for instance in a case of prolonged poisoning they may be related to dates at a considerable distance from the date of the actual fatal dose.


It will be observed that "the circumstances" are of the transaction which resulted in the death of the declarant. It is not necessary that there should be a known transaction other than that the death of the declarant has ultimately been caused, for the condition for the admissibility of the evidence is that "the cause of the declarant's death comes into question". In the present case the cause of the deceased's death comes into question. The transaction is one in which the deceased was murdered on March 21, or March 22, and his body was found in a trunk proved to be bought on behalf of the accused. The statement made by the deceased on March 20 or 21 that he was setting out to the place where the accused lived, and to meet a person, the wife of the accused, who lived in the accused's house, appears clearly to be a statement as to some of the circumstances of the transaction which resulted in his death. The statement was rightly admitted.





Supreme Court of India

Ratan Gond vs The State Of Bihar on 19 September, 1958

The appellant was charged with the murder of a girl Baisakhi. On information given by Aghani, younger sister of the deceased, the headless body of the deceased was re-

covered. The appellant absconded but was found in another village and was brought back by the village volunteer force.

On interrogation by the Mukhia, Sarpanch and a panch of the Gram Panchayat the appellant made an extrajudicial confession. A blood-stained cutting weapon was recovered from a room of the appellant. At his instance some strands of hair were recovered from a place at a short distance from the place where the dead body had been recovered, which

were stained with human blood and appeared to be scalp hair of a human female. The appellant was convicted and sentenced to death and the High Court upheld the conviction

and sentence. The Courts took into consideration the statements made by Aghani to her mother and to other persons that the deceased was last seen in the company of the

appellant. Aghani, however, died before her statement could be recorded in a judicial proceeding. It was contended by the appellant that the statements of Aghani were inadmissible, that the extra-judicial confession was not relevant and that the circumstantial evidence was not sufficient to establish the guilt of the appellant.


Court held - "We may say at the very outset that we agree with learned counsel for the appellant that the statements of Aghani, who unfortunately died within a few months of the occurrence before her statements could be recorded in a judicial proceeding, were not admissible in evidence either under s. 32 or s. 33 of the Evidence Act. Section 33 is clearly out of the way because Aghani made no statements in a judicial proceeding or before any person authorised by law to take her evidence. The only relevant clause of s. 32 which may be said to have any bearing is cl. (1) which relates to statements made by a person as to the cause of his death or as to any of the circumstances of the transaction which resulted in his death. In the case before us, the statements made by Aghani do not relate to the cause of her death or to any of the circumstances relating to her death ; on the contrary, the statements relate to the death of her sister. We are, therefore, of the opinion that the statements do not come within s. 32(1) of the Evidence Act and, indeed, Mr. Dhebar appearing on behalf of the State, has conceded that s. 32(1) does not apply to the statements of Aghani."



Supreme Court of India

Atbir vs Govt. Of N.C.T Of Delhi on 9 August, 2010

(i) Dying declaration can be the sole basis of conviction if it inspires the full confidence of the Court.


(ii) The Court should be satisfied that the deceased was in a fit state of mind at the time of making the statement and that it was not the result of tutoring, prompting or imagination.


(iii) Where the Court is satisfied that the declaration is true and voluntary, it can base its conviction without any further corroboration.


(iv) It cannot be laid down as an absolute rule of law that the dying declaration cannot form the sole basis of conviction unless it is corroborated. The rule requiring corroboration is merely a rule of prudence.


(v) Where dying declaration is suspicious, it should not be acted upon without corroborative evidence.


(vi) A dying declaration which suffers from infirmity such as the deceased was unconscious and could never make any statement cannot form the basis of conviction.


(vii) Merely because a dying declaration does not contain all the details as to the occurrence, it is not to be rejected.


(viii) Even if it is a brief statement, it is not to be discarded.


(ix) When the eye-witness affirms that the deceased was not in a fit and conscious state to make the dying declaration, medical opinion cannot prevail.


(x) If after careful scrutiny, the Court is satisfied that it is true and free from any effort to induce If If there is no reason for the deceased to make a false statement and if it is coherent and consistent, there shall be no legal impediment to make it basis of conviction, even if there is no corroboration.

It is clear that merely because the dying declaration was not recorded by the Magistrate, by itself cannot be a ground to reject the whole prosecution case. It also clarified that where the declaration is wholly inconsistent or contradictory statements are made or if it appears from the records that the dying declaration is not reliable, a question may arise as to why the Magistrate was not called for, but ordinarily the same may not be insisted upon. This Court further held that the statement of the injured, in event of her death may also be treated as FIR.


Though a dying declaration is entitled to great weight, it is worthwhile to note that the accused has no power of cross- examination. Such a power is essential for eliciting the truth as an obligation of oath could be. This is the reason the court also insists that the dying declaration should be of such a nature as to inspire full confidence of the court in its correctness. The court has to be on guard that the statement of the deceased was not as a result of either tutoring, or prompting or a product of imagination. The court must be further satisfied that the deceased was in a fit state of mind after a clear opportunity to observe and identify the assailant. Once the court is satisfied that the declaration was true and voluntary, undoubtedly, it can base its conviction without any further corroboration. It cannot be laid down as an absolute rule of law that the dying declaration cannot form the sole basis of conviction unless it is corroborated. The rule requiring corroboration is merely a rule of prudence."


In Munnu Raja and Another vs. The State of Madhya Pradesh, (1976) 3 SCC 104, this Court held:-


"....It is well settled that though a dying declaration must be approached with caution for the reason that the maker of the statement cannot be subject to cross- examination, there is neither a rule of law nor a rule of prudence which has hardened into a rule of law that a dying declaration cannot be acted upon unless it is corroborated...."


In Paras Yadav and Ors. vs. State of Bihar, (1999) 2 SCC 126, this Court held that lapse on the part of the Investigation Officer in not bringing the Magistrate to record the statement of the deceased should not be taken in favour of the accused. This Court further held that a statement of the deceased recorded by a police officer in a routine manner as a complaint and not as a dying declaration can also be treated as dying declaration after the death of the injured and relied upon if the evidence of the prosecution witnesses clearly establishes that the deceased was conscious and was in a fit state of health to make the statement.


The effect of dying declaration not recorded by the Magistrate was considered and reiterated in Balbir Singh & Anr. Vs. State of Punjab, (2006) 12 SCC 283. Paragraph 23 of the said judgment is relevant which reads as under:


"23. However, in State of Karnataka v. Shariff, (2003) 2 SCC 473, this Court categorically held that there was no requirement of law that a dying declaration must necessarily be made before a Magistrate. This Court therein noted its earlier decision in Ram Bihari Yadav v. State of Bihar, (1998) 4 SCC 517, wherein it was also held that the dying declaration need not be in the form of questions and answers. (See also Laxman v. State of Maharashtra, (2002) 6 SCC 710)."


In State of Rajasthan vs. Wakteng, (2007) 14 SCC 550, the view in Balbir Singh's case(supra) has been reiterated. The following conclusions are relevant which read as under:


"14. Though conviction can be based solely on the dying declaration, without any corroboration the same should not be suffering from any infirmity.

15. While great solemnity and sanctity is attached to the words of a dying man because a person on the verge of death is not likely to tell lie or to concoct a case so as to implicate an innocent person but the court has to be careful to ensure that the statement was not the result of either tutoring, prompting or a product of the imagination. It is, therefore, essential that the court must be satisfied that the deceased was in a fit state of mind to make the statement, had clear capacity to observe and identify the assailant and that he was making the statement without any influence or rancour. Once the court is satisfied that the dying declaration is true and voluntary it is sufficient for the purpose of conviction."


In Muthu Kutty & Anr. Vs. State By Inspector of Police, T.N., (2005) 9 SCC 113, the following discussion and the ultimate conclusion are relevant which read as under:


"14. This is a case where the basis of conviction of the accused is the dying declaration. The situation in which a person is on the deathbed is so solemn and serene when he is dying that the grave position in which he is placed, is the reason in law to accept veracity of his statement. It is for this reason that the requirements of oath and cross-examination are dispensed with.



Supreme Court of India

Panneerselvam vs State Of Tamil Nadu on 15 May, 2008


This Court has laid down in several judgments the principles governing dying declaration, which could be summed up as under as indicated in Smt. Paniben v. State of Gujarat :


(i) There is neither rule of law nor of prudence that dying declaration cannot be acted upon without corroboration. [See Munnu Raja and Anr. v. The State of Madhya Pradesh ]


(ii) If the Court is satisfied that the dying declaration is true and voluntary it can base conviction on it, without corroboration. [See State of Uttar Pradesh v. Ram Sagar Yadav and Ors. and Ramavati Devi v. State of Bihar ]


(iii) The Court has to scrutinize the dying declaration carefully and must ensure that the declaration is not the result of tutoring, prompting or imagination. The deceased had an opportunity to observe and identify the assailants and was in a fit state to make the declaration. [See K. Ramachandra Reddy and Anr. v. The Public Prosecutor ]


(iv) Where the dying declaration is suspicious, it should not be acted upon without corroborative evidence. [See Rasheed Beg v. State of Madhya Pradesh ]


(v) Where the deceased was unconscious and could never make any dying declaration, the evidence with regard to it is to be rejected. [See Kaka Singh v. State of M.P. ]


(vi) A dying declaration which suffers from infirmity cannot form the basis of conviction. [See Ram Manorath and Ors. v. State of U.P. ]


(vii) Merely because a dying declaration does contain the details as to the occurrence, it is not to be rejected. [See State of Maharashtra v. Krishnamurthi Laxmipati Naidu ]


(viii) Equally, merely because it is a brief statement, it is not to be discarded. On the contrary, the shortness of the statement itself guarantees truth. [See Surajdeo Oza and Ors. v. State of Bihar ].


(ix) Normally the Court in order to satisfy whether the deceased was in a fit mental condition to make the dying declaration looks up to the medical opinion. But where the eye-witness said that the deceased was in a fit and conscious state to make the dying declaration, the medical opinion cannot prevail. [See Nanahau Ram and Anr. v. State of Madhya Pradesh ].


(x) Where the prosecution version differs from the version as given in the dying declaration, the said declaration cannot be acted upon. [See State of U.P. v. Madan Mohan and Ors. ].


(xi) Where there is more than one statement in the nature of dying declaration, one first in point of time must be preferred. Of course, if the plurality of dying declarations could be held to be trustworthy and reliable, it has to be accepted. [See Mohanlal Gangaram Gehani v. State of Maharashtra ]


Supreme Court of India

Mukesh & Anr vs State For Nct Of Delhi & Ors on 5 May, 2017


A dying declaration is an important piece of evidence which, if found veracious and voluntary by the court, could be the sole basis for conviction. If a dying declaration is found to be voluntary and made in fit mental condition, it can be relied upon even without any corroboration. However, the court, while admitting a dying declaration, must be vigilant towards the need for 'Compos Mentis Certificate' from a doctor as well as the absence of any kind of tutoring. In Laxman v. State of Maharashtra[], the law relating to dying declaration was succinctly put in the following words:


“3. … A dying declaration can be oral or in writing and any adequate method of communication whether by words or by signs or otherwise will suffice provided the indication is positive and definite. In most cases, however, such statements are made orally before death ensues and is reduced to writing by someone like a Magistrate or a doctor or a police officer. When it is recorded, no oath is necessary nor is the presence of a Magistrate absolutely necessary, although to assure authenticity it is usual to call a Magistrate, if available for recording the statement of a man about to die. There is no requirement of law that a dying declaration must necessarily be made to a Magistrate and when such statement is recorded by a Magistrate there is no specified statutory form for such recording. Consequently, what evidential value or weight has to be attached to such statement necessarily depends on the facts and circumstances of each particular case. What is essentially required is that the person who records a dying declaration must be satisfied that the deceased was in a fit state of mind. Where it is proved by the testimony of the Magistrate that the declarant was fit to make the statement even without examination by the doctor the declaration can be acted upon provided the court ultimately holds the same to be voluntary and truthful. A certification by the doctor is essentially a rule of caution and therefore the voluntary and truthful nature of the declaration can be established otherwise.”



In Shudhakar v. State of Madhya Pradesh , Apex Court, after referring to the landmark decisions in Laxman (supra) and Chirra Shivraj v. State of Andhra Pradesh , has dealt with the issues arising out of multiple dying declarations and has gone to the extent of declining the first dying declaration and accepting the subsequent dying declarations. The Court found that the first dying declaration was not voluntary and not made by free will of the deceased; and the second and third dying declarations were voluntary and duly corroborated by other prosecution witnesses and medical evidence. In the said case, the accused was married to the deceased whom he set ablaze by pouring kerosene in the matrimonial house itself. The smoke arising from the house attracted the neighbours who rushed the victim to the hospital where she recorded three statements before dying. In her first statement given to the Naib Tehsildar, she did not implicate her husband, but in the second and third statements, which were also recorded on the same day, she clearly stated that the accused poured kerosene on her and set her on fire. The accused was convicted under Section 302 IPC. In this regard, the Court made the following observations:


“21. Having referred to the law relating to dying declaration, now we may examine the issue that in cases involving multiple dying declarations made by the deceased, which of the various dying declarations should be believed by the court and what are the principles governing such determination. This becomes important where the multiple dying declarations made by the deceased are either contradictory or are at variance with each other to a large extent. The test of common prudence would be to first examine which of the dying declarations is corroborated by other prosecution evidence. Further, the attendant circumstances, the condition of the deceased at the relevant time, the medical evidence, the voluntariness and genuineness of the statement made by the deceased, physical and mental fitness of the deceased and possibility of the deceased being tutored are some of the factors which would guide the exercise of judicial discretion by the court in such matters.”


in Sandeep and another v. State of Haryana was faced with a similar situation where the first dying declaration given to a police officer was more elaborate and the subsequent dying declaration recorded by the Judicial Magistrate lacked certain information given earlier. After referring to the two dying declarations, this Court examined whether there was any inconsistency between the two dying declarations. After examining the contents of the two dying declarations, this Court held that there was no inconsistency between the two dying declarations and non-mention of certain features in the dying declaration recorded by the Judicial Magistrate does not make both the dying declarations incompatible.


In Babulal and others v. State of M.P. - wherein the value of dying declaration in evidence has been stated:


“7. … A person who is facing imminent death, with even a shadow of continuing in this world practically non-existent, every motive of falsehood is obliterated. The mind gets altered by most powerful ethical reasons to speak only the truth. Great solemnity and sanctity is attached to the words of a dying person because a person on the verge of death is not likely to tell lies or to concoct a case so as to implicate an innocent person. The maxim is “a man will not meet his Maker with a lie in his mouth” (nemo moriturus praesumitur mentire). Mathew Arnold said, “truth sits on the lips of a dying man”. The general principle on which the species of evidence is admitted is that they are declarations made in extremity, when the party is at the point of death, and when every hope of this world is gone, when every motive to falsehood is silenced and mind induced by the most powerful consideration to speak the truth; situation so solemn that law considers the same as creating an obligation equal to that which is imposed by a positive oath administered in a court of justice. …”


Dealing with oral dying declaration, a two-Judge Bench in Prakash and another v. State of Madhya Pradesh- has ruled thus: “11. … In the ordinary course, the members of the family including the father were expected to ask the victim the names of the assailants at the first opportunity and if the victim was in a position to communicate, it is reasonably expected that he would give the names of the assailants if he had recognised the assailants. In the instant case there is no occasion to hold that the deceased was not in a position to identify the assailants because it is nobody’s case that the deceased did not know the accused persons. It is therefore quite likely that on being asked the deceased would name the assailants. In the facts and circumstances of the case the High Court has accepted the dying declaration and we do not think that such a finding is perverse and requires to be interfered with. …”


In Vijay Pal v. State (Government of NCT of Delhi), after referring to the Constitution Bench decision in Laxman (supra) and the two- Judge Bench decisions in Babulal (supra) and Prakash (supra), the Court held:


“22. Thus, the law is quite clear that if the dying declaration is absolutely credible and nothing is brought on record that the deceased was in such a condition, he or she could not have made a dying declaration to a witness, there is no justification to discard the same. In the instant case, PW 1 had immediately rushed to the house of the deceased and she had told him that her husband had poured kerosene on her. The plea taken by the appellant that he has been falsely implicated because his money was deposited with the in-laws and they were not inclined to return, does not also really breathe the truth, for there is even no suggestion to that effect."


In Mafabhai Nagarbhai Raval v. State of Gujarat, AIR 1992 SC 2186, this Court dealt with a case wherein a question arose with respect to whether a person suffering from 99 per cent burn injuries could be deemed capable enough for the purpose of making a dying declaration. The learned trial Judge thought that the same was not at all possible, as the victim had gone into shock after receiving such high degree burns. He had consequently opined, that the moment the deceased had seen the flame, she was likely to have sustained mental shock. Development of such shock from the very beginning, was the ground on which the Trial Court had disbelieved the medical evidence available. This Court then held, that the doctor who had conducted her post-mortem was a competent person, and had deposed in this respect. Therefore, unless there existed some inherent and apparent defect, the court could not have substitute its opinion for that of the doctor's. Hence, in light of the facts of the case, the dying declarations made, were found by this Court to be worthy of reliance, as the same had been made truthfully and voluntarily. There was no evidence on record to suggest that the victim had provided a tutored version, and the argument of the defence stating that the condition of the deceased was so serious that she could not have made such a statement was not accepted, and the dying declarations were relied upon.



In State of M.P. v. Dal Singh-, a two-Judge Bench placed reliance on the dying declaration of the deceased who had suffered 100% burn injuries on the ground that the dying declaration was found to be credible.”


IN Mukesh v. NCT (Supra)

The contention that the third dying declaration made through gestures lacks credibility and that the same ought to have been videographed, in our view, is totally sans substance. The dying declaration recorded on the basis of nods and gestures is not only admissible but also possesses evidentiary value, the extent of which shall depend upon who recorded the statement. Appreciating the third dying declaration recorded on the basis of gestures, nods and writings on the base of aforesaid pronouncements, we have no hesitation in holding that the dying declaration made through signs, gestures or by nods are admissible as evidence, if proper care was taken at the time of recording the statement. The only caution the court ought to take is that the person recording the dying declaration is able to notice correctly as to what the declarant means by answering by gestures or nods. In the present case, this caution was aptly taken, as the person who recorded the prosecutrix’s dying declaration was the Metropolitan Magistrate and he was satisfied himself as regards the mental alertness and fitness of the prosecutrix, and recorded the dying declaration of the prosecutrix by noticing her gestures and by her own writings.


Queen-Empress vs Abdullah on 27 February, 1885

In the first place, it is clear that Section 32 was intended by the framers of the Act to provide for cases of "dying declarations;" that is to say, where a person mortally injured makes certain statements regarding the cause and other circumstances of the injury, and then dies. These statements may be given in evidence under Section 32. If I had been compelled to hold that these signs were not admissible under Section 32, I should have regretted it, because I feel that they are admissible under a. 32 or not at all. I think that the Legislature intended that such evidence should be admitted only within the limits provided by that section, and that if they cannot be brought under that, we ought not to search too carefully for other provisions under which to admit them. The statement, assuming it to be such, was here made by a witness, that is, by one who was conscious, and who knew the truth, and whose evidence would have been the best possible if she had continued to live. The only question would then have been as to the truth of her evidence. Of her competency to speak the truth of the matter, there could, of course, be no doubt. But she is dead, and cannot be called as a witness, and the question then arises whether you can, as it were, make her a witness notwithstanding her death, and give in evidence the statements which she made. To make such a state of things possible, Section 32 of the Evidence Act was passed. That section says that the statement, whether written or verbal, must be a statement as to relevant facts. In the present case that condition is of course satisfied. The question then arises--Is the statement a "verbal" one? "Verbal" means by words. It is not necessary that the words should be spoken. If the term used in the section were "oral," it might be that the statement must be confined to words spoken by the mouth. But the meaning of "verbal" is something wider. From the earliest times it has been held that the words of another person may be so adopted by a witness as to be properly treated as the words of the witness himself. The same objection which is now made to the admission in evidence of these signs might equally be made to the assent given by a witness in an action to leading questions put by counsel. If, for example, counsel were to ask--"Is this place a thousand miles from Calcutta?" and the witness replied "Yes," it might be said that the witness made no statement as to the distance referred to. The objection to leading questions is not that they are absolutely illegal, but only that they are unfair. The only question here is, whether the deceased, by the signs of assent which she made, adopted the verbal statements employed by the questions? I think it must be held that she did so. I have felt some difficulty in arriving at this conclusion, because it is plain that evidence of this description requires strong safeguards before it can properly be accepted. But since the deceased might undoubtedly have adopted the words of the Deputy Magistrate by express words, such as "Yes," though even in that case the words in which the statement was actually made would not have been her own, I think she might equally adopt them by signs also. On these grounds, I would answer the reference in the amended form, which I indicated at the outset, in the affirmative.


Straight, J.


7. I also am of opinion that the signs made by the deceased Dulari, in response to the questions put to her, may be given in evidence, with the object of supplying material from which the inference may properly be drawn, that she either adopted or negatived the matter of such questions. If the significance of these signs is established satisfactorily to the mind of the Court, then I think that such questions, taken with her assent or dissent to them, clearly proved, constitute a "verbal statement" as to the cause of her death, within the meaning of Section 32 of the Evidence Act. Statements by the witnesses as to their impressions of what those signs meant were, in my judgment, inadmissible, and should be eliminated; but, assuming that the questions put to the deceased were responded to by her in such a manner as to leave no doubt in the mind of the Court as to her meaning, then I consider it is not straining the construction to hold that the circumstances are covered by Section 32. It has been held more than once in England that it is no objection to the admissibility of a dying declaration that it was made "in answer to leading questions or obtained by earnest and pressing solicitations."--(Russell On Crimes, vol. 3, p. 269); and I am not disposed, as we have remarked, to draw such a purely technical distinction as to say that while questions adopted or negatived by a mere "Yes" or "No" constitute a "verbal statement," within Section 32, they become inadmissible when assent or dissent is expressed by a nod or a shake of the head


In Meesala Ramakrishan v. State of A.P., Apex Court, while admitting the dying declaration made through gestures, made the following observations:


“20. … that dying declaration recorded on the basis of nods and gestures is not only admissible but possesses evidentiary value, the extent of which shall depend upon who recorded the statement, what is his educational attainment, what gestures and nods were made, what were the questions asked — whether they were simple or complicated — and how effective or understandable the nods and gestures were.”


In B. Shashikala v. State of A.P -, it was observed that: “13. The evidence of PW 8 is absolutely clear and unambiguous as regards the manner in which he recorded the statement of the deceased with the help of PW 4. It is also evident that he also has knowledge of Hindi although he may not be able to read and write or speak in the said language. His evidence also shows that he has taken all precautions and care while recording the statement. Furthermore, he had the opportunity of recording the statement of the deceased upon noticing her gesture. The court in a situation of this nature is also entitled to take into consideration the circumstances which were prevailing at the time of recording the statement of the deceased.”


In Laxmi v. Om Prakash &Ors., AIR 2001 SC 2383, this court held, that if the court finds that the capacity of the maker of the statement to narrate the facts was impaired, or if the court entertains grave doubts regarding whether the deceased was in a fit physical and mental state to make such a statement, then the court may, in the absence of corroborating evidence lending assurance to the contents of the declaration, refuse to act upon it.



In Govindappa &Ors. v. State of Karnataka, (2010) 6 SCC 533, it was argued that the Executive Magistrate, while recording the dying declaration did not get any certificate from the medical officer regarding the condition of the deceased. This Court then held, that such a circumstance itself is not sufficient to discard the dying declaration. Certification by a doctor regarding the fit state of mind of the deceased, for the purpose of giving a dying declaration, is essentially a rule of caution and therefore, the voluntary and truthful nature of such a declaration, may also be established otherwise. Such a dying declaration must be recorded on the basis that normally, a person on the verge of death would not implicate somebody falsely. Thus, a dying declaration must be given due weight in evidence.


In State of Punjab v. Gian Kaur &Anr., AIR 1998 SC 2809, an issue arose regarding the acceptability in evidence, of the thumb impression of Rita, the deceased, that appeared on the dying declaration, as the trial court had found that there were clear ridges and curves, and the doctor was unable to explain how such ridges and curves could in fact be present, when the skin of the thumb had been completely burnt. The court gave the situation the benefit of doubt.


"The law on the issue can be summarised to the effect that law does not provide who can record a dying declaration, nor is there any prescribed form, format, or procedure for the same. The person who records a dying declaration must be satisfied that the maker is in a fit state of mind and is capable of making such a statement. Moreover, the requirement of a certificate provided by a Doctor in respect of such state of the deceased, is not essential in every case.''


Position of statement of dying declaration made in one language and recorded in another language :

There is no doubt that if the dying declaration is recorded in the words of the injured, it would be the best dying declaration. It however appears that exact words of the injured cannot be always insisted upon. It has been held by the Apex Court in Baksish Singh v. State or Punjab that simply because the very words uttered by the injured are not reproduced, it is no reason to reject the dying declaration if the Court is otherwise satisfied that the dying declaration, as recorded, correctly reproduces what was stated by the injured. The Supreme Court in Tehal Singh v. State of Punjab has held that the substance of the dying declaration written in the words of the writer attaches no infirmity. Relying on the law laid down in this case, the H.P. High Court in State of H.P. v. Gopi 1985 Cri LJ 984 (sic) has held that statement made in one language and recorded in another language is legal. In Srinivasa and ors. v. State (2005) 9 SCC 327, the declarant and recorder of dying declaration were not speaking the same language. The dying declaration was therefore recorded with the help of a translator. The correctness of the translation was confirmed by the Doctor who knew both languages. In the circumstances, it was held by the Apex Court that the veracity of the dying declaration stands established.

It would be clear from the above that it is not the law that the exact words uttered by the injured need always be reproduced. Even a translated version, if the same is found to be a correct version of the statement of the injured can be acted upon.




Supreme Court of India

Patel Hiralal Joitaram vs State Of Gujarat on 18 October, 2001

The provision relates to the statement made by a person before his death. Two categories of statement are made admissible in evidence and further made them as substantive evidence. They are: (1) His statement as to the cause of his death; (2) His statement as to any of the circumstances of the transaction which resulted in his death. The second category can envelope a far wider amplitude than the first category. The words "statement as any of the circumstances" are by themselves capable of expanding the width and contours of the scope of admissibility. When the word "circumstances" is linked to "transaction which resulted in his death" the sub-section casts the net in a very wide dimension. Anything which has a nexus with his death, proximate or distant, direct or indirect, can also fall within the purview of the sub-section. As the possibility of getting the maker of the statement in flesh and blood has been closed once and for all the endeavour should be how to include the statement of a dead person within the sweep of the sub-section and not how to exclude it therefrom. Admissibility is the first step and once it is admitted the court has to consider how far it is reliable. Once that test of reliability is found positive the court has to consider the utility of that statement in the particular case.


In Sharad Birdhichand Sarda vs. State of Maharashtra (1984 (4) SCC 116), a three Judge Bench of this Court considered the scope of section 32(1) of the Evidence Act. After referring to a number of decisions of different High Courts on the point Fazal Ali, J. who spoke for the majority opinion, laid down five propositions. Among them the first is that the legislature has thought it necessary to widen the sphere of Section 32 for avoiding injustice. Among the remaining propositions the second is relevant for our purpose and hence it is extracted below:


"The test of proximity cannot be too literally construed and practically reduced to a cut-and-dried formula of universal application so as to be confined in a straitjacket. Distance to time would depend or vary with the circumstances of each case. ... Sometimes statements relevant to or furnishing an immediate motive may also be admissible as being part of the transaction of death. It is manifest that all these statement come to light only after the death of the deceased who speaks from death."

Following the above decision a two Judge Bench of this Court has stated thus in Rattan Singh vs. State of H.P. :


"The collection of the words in Section 32(1) 'circumstances of the transaction which resulted in his death' is apparently of wider amplitude than saying 'circumstances which caused his death'. There need not necessarily be a direct nexus between 'circumstances' and death. It is enough if the words spoken by the deceased have reference to any circumstances which has connection with any of the transactions which ended up in the death of the deceased. Such statement would also fall within the purview of Section 32(1) of the Evidence Act. In other words, it is not necessary that such circumstances should be proximate, for, even distant circumstances can also become admissible under the sub-section, provided it has nexus with the transaction which resulted in the death."



The Supreme Court in the case of P.V. Radhakrishna Vs. State of Karnataka reported in (2003) 6 SCC 443 has held as under :-


''At this juncture, it is relevant to take note of Section 32of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (in short 'Evidence Act') which deals with cases in which statement of relevant fact by person who is dead or cannot be found, etc. is relevant. The general rule is that all oral evidence must be direct viz., if it refers to a fact which could be seen it must be the evidence of the witness who says he saw it, if it refers to a fact which could be heard, it must be the evidence of the witness who says he heard it, if it refers to a fact which could be perceived by any other sense, it must be the evidence of the witness who says he perceived it by that sense. Similar is the case with opinion. These aspects are elaborated in Section 60. The eight clauses of Section 32are exceptions to the general rule against hearsay just stated. Clause (1) of Section 32makes relevant what is generally described as dying declaration, though such an expression has not been used in any Statute. It essentially means statements made by a person as to the cause of his death or as to the circumstances of the transaction resulting in his death. The grounds of admission are: firstly, necessity for the victim being generally the only principal eye-witness to the crime, the exclusion of the statement might deflect the ends of justice; and secondly, the sense of impending death, which creates a sanction equal to the obligation of an oath. The general principle on which this species of evidence is admitted is that they are declarations made in extremity, when the party is at the point of death and when every hope of this world is gone, when every motive to falsehood is silenced, and the mind is induced by the most powerful considerations to speak the truth; a situation so solemn and so lawful is considered by the law as creating an obligation equal to that which is imposed by a positive oath administered in a Court of justice. These aspects have been eloquently stated by Lyre LCR in R. v. Wood Cock (1789) 1 Leach 500. Shakespeare makes the wounded Melun, finding himself disbelieved while announcing the intended treachery of the Dauphin Lewis explain:

"Have I met hideous death within my view, Retaining but a quantity of life, Which bleeds away, Even as a form of wax, Resolveth from his figure, Against the fire?

What is the world should Make me now deceive, Since I must lose the use of all deceit? Why should I then be false, Since it is true That I must die here, Live hence by truth?"

(See King John, Act 5, Sect.4) The principle on which dying declaration is admitted in evidence is indicated in legal maxim "nemo moriturusproesumiturmentiri - a man will not meet his maker with a lie in his mouth."


Where there are more than one statement in the nature of dying declaration, one first in point of time must be preferred. Of course, if the plurality of dying declaration could be held to be trustworthy and reliable, it has to be accepted. [See Mohanlal Gangaram Gehaniv.State of Maharashtra (AIR 1982 SC 839)]


Supreme Court of India

Kushal Rao vs The State Of Bombay on 25 September, 1957

(1) that it cannot be laid down as an absolute rule of law that a dying declaration cannot form the sole basis of conviction unless it is corroborated; (2) that each case must be determined on its own facts keeping in view the circumstances in which the dying declaration was made ; (3) that it cannot be laid down as a general proposition that a dying declaration is a weaker kind of evidence than other pieces of evidence; (4) that a dying declaration stands on the same footing as another piece of evidence and has to be judged in the light of surrounding circumstances and with reference to the principles governing the weighing of evidence; (5) that a dying declaration which has been recorded by a competent magis- trate in the proper manner, that is to say, in the form of questions -and answers, and, as far as practicable, in the words of the maker of the declaration, stands on a much higher footing than a dying declaration which depends upon oral testimony which may suffer from all the infirmities of human, memory and human character, and (6) that in order to test the reliability of a dying declaration, the Court has to keep in view the. circumstances like the opportunity of the dying man for observation, for example, whether there was sufficient light if the crime was committed at night; whether the capacity of the man to remember the facts stated had not been impaired at the time he was making the state- ment, by circumstances beyond his control; that the state- ment has been consistent throughout if he had several oppor- tunities of making a dying declaration apart from the official record of it-; and that the statement had been made at the earliest opportunity and was not the result of tutoring by interested parties.


Hence, in order to pass the test of reliability, a dying declaration has to be subjected to a very close scrutiny, keeping in view the fact that the statement has been made in the absence of the accused who had no opportunity of testing the veracity of the statement by cross-examination. But once the court has come to the conclusion that the dying declaration was the truthful version as to the circumstances of the, death and the assailants of the victim, there is no question of further corroboration. If, on the other hand, the court, after examining the dying declaration in all its aspects, and testing its veracity has come to the conclusion that it is not reliable by itself, and that it suffers from an infirmity, then, without corroboration it cannot form the basis of a conviction. Thus, the -necessity for corroboration arises not from any inherent weakness of a dying declaration as a piece of evidence, as held in some of the re- ported cases, but from the fact that the court, in a given case, has come to the conclusion that that particular dying declaration was not free from the infirmities referred to above or from such other infirmities as may be disclosed in evidence in that case.



Supreme Court of India

Sudhakar & Anr vs State Of Maharashtra on 17 July, 2000

The circumstances must have some proximate relation to the actual occurrence and they can only include the acts done when and where the death was caused....Thus a statement merely suggesting motive for a crime cannot be admitted in evidence unless it is so intimately connected with the transaction itself as to be a circumstance of the transaction. In the instant case evidence has been led about statements made by the deceased long before this incident which may suggest motive for the crime.

Thus, from a review of the authorities mentioned above and the clear language of Section 32(1) of the Evidence Act, the following propositions emerge:


(1) Section 32 is an exception of the rule of hearsay and makes admissible the statement of a person who dies, whether the death is a homicide or a suicide, provided the statement relates to the cause of death, or exhibits circumstances leading to the death. In this respect, as indicated above, the Indian Evidence Act, in view of the peculiar conditions of our society and the diverse nature and character of our people, has thought it necessary to widen the sphere of Section 32 to avoid injustice.


(2) The test of proximity cannot be too literally construed and practically reduced to a cut-and- dried formula of universal application so as to be confined in a straitjacket. Distance of time would depend or vary with the circumstances of each case. For instance, where death is a logical culmination of a continuous drama long in process and is, as it were, a finale of the story, the statement regarding each step directly connected with the end of the drama would be admissible because the entire statement would have to be read as an organic whole and not torn from the context. Sometimes statements relevant to or furnishing an immediate motive may also be admissible as being a part of the transaction of death. It is manifest that all these statements come to light only after the death of the deceased who speaks from death. For instance, where the death takes place within a very short time of the marriage or the distance of time is not spread over more than 3-4 months the statement may be admissible under Section 32.


(3) The second part of clause (1) of Section 32 is yet another exception to the rule that in criminal law the evidence of a person who was not being subjected to or given an opportunity of being cross-examined by the accused, would be valueless because the place of cross- examination is taken by the solemnity and sanctity of oath for the simple reason that a person on the verge of death is not likely to make a false statement unless there is strong evidence to show that the statement was secured either by prompting or tutoring.


(4) It may be important to note that Section 32 does not speak of homicide alone but includes suicide also, hence all the circumstances which may be relevant to prove a case of homicide would be equally relevant to prove a case of suicide.


(5) Where the main evidence consists of statements and letters written by the deceased which are directly connected with or related to her death and which reveal a tell-tale story, the said statement would clearly fall within the four corners of Section 32 and, therefore, admissible. The distance of time alone in such cases would not make the statement irrelevant."


In Najjam Faraghi @ Nijjam Faruqui v. State of West Bengal [1998 (2) SCC 45] this Court held that the death of declarant long after making the dying declaration did not mean that such a statement lost its value merely because the person making the statement lived for a longer time than expected. But to make the statement admissible, it has to be shown that the statement made was the cause of the death or with respect to the circumstances of the transaction which resulted in his death. The facts mentioned in the statement are, however, required to be shown connected with the cause of the death whether directly or indirectly. Rejecting the contention that as the injuries caused as mentioned in the dying declaration were indirectly responsible for the cause of death, the statement of the deceased could not be admitted in evidence, this Court in G.S. Walia v. State of Punjab [1998 (5) SCC 150] held: "Therefore, there is no substance in the contention raised by Mr.U.R. Lalit that the injuries were only directly responsible for causing death of Balwant Singh and as his death cannot be said to have been caused due to the injuries caused, the statement made by him would not fall within Section 32 of the Indian Evidence Act.


In Padmaben Shamalbhai Patel v. State of Gujarat 1991 (1) SCC 744 it was held that the failure on the part of the medical men to record the statement of the deceased in question and answer form cannot in any manner affect the probative value to be attached to their evidence.


Supreme Court of India

State Of Karnataka vs Shariff on 27 January, 2003

It is true that PW 11 and PW 14 were Police personnel and a Magistrate could have been called to the hospital to record the dying declaration of Muneera Begum, however, there is no requirement of law that a dying declaration must necessarily be made to a Magistrate. In Bhagirath v. State of Haryana AIR 1997 SC 234 on receiving message from the hospital that a person with gun shot injuries had been admitted a head constable rushed to the place after making entry in the police register and after obtaining certificate from the doctor about the condition of the injured took his statement for the purposes of registering the case. It was held that the statement recorded by the head constable was admissible as dying declaration. Similar view was taken in Munnu Raja & Anr. v. State of Madhya Pradesh 1976 (2) SCR 764, wherein the statement made by the deceased to the investigating officer at the police station by way of First Information Report, which was recorded in writing, was held to be admissible in evidence.


The other reason given by the High Court is that the dying declaration was not in question-answer form. Very often the deceased is merely asked as to how the incident took place and the statement is recorded in a narrative form. In fact such a statement is more natural and gives the version of the incident as it has been perceived by the victim. The question whether a dying declaration which has not been recorded in question-answer form can be accepted in evidence or not has been considered by this Court on several occasions. In Ram Bihari Yadav v. State of Bihar & Ors. (1998) 4 SCC 517, it was held as follows :


"It cannot be said that unless the dying declaration is in question-answer form, it could not be accepted. Having regard to the sanctity attached to a dying declaration as it comes from the mouth of a dying person though, unlike the principle of English law he need not be under apprehension of death. It should be in the actual words of the maker of the declaration. Generally, the dying declaration ought to be recorded in the form of questions and answers but if a dying declaration is not elaborate but consists of only a few sentences and is in the actual words of the maker the mere fact that it is not in question-answer form cannot be a ground against its acceptability or reliability. The mental condition of the maker of the declaration, alertness of mind, memory and understanding of what he is saying, are matters which can be observed by any person. But to lend assurance to those factors having regard to the importance of the dying declaration, the certificate of a medically trained person is insisted upon. ."



Supreme Court of India

Darshana Devi vs State Of Punjab on 11 October, 1995

While considering the circumstances, we shall first take up for consideration the alleged dying declaration made to Lachhmi Devi, PW-1 and Bimla Devi, PW-2 at one and the same time by the deceased when he knocked at the door of his mother's room at about 2.00 a.m. while in a burning condition. According to PW-1 Lachhmi Devi, mother of the deceased, when the deceased knocked at her door and she alongwith Bimla Devi PW2 came out and saw Madan Lal in burning condition, "Madan Lal on enquiry told that Darshana Devi accused had sprinkled kerosene oil on him and had burnt him." She went on to add that thereafter she took Madan Lal to the hospital, in a rickshaw which met them on the way to the hospital. PW-2 while deposing about the oral dying declaration made by the deceased, when he knocked at the door at about 2.00 a.m., stated:


"Madan Lal knocked at our door. I and Lachhmi Devi came out and saw Madan Lal burnt. Madan Lal had told that Darshana Devi had sprinkled kerosene oil on him when he was lying asleep and had burnt him. My mother took him to the hospital where he subsequently expired."

There is variance in the statements of the two witness with regard to the exact words allegedly used was not in a fit condition to make a statement after the police had arrived at the hospital at about 3.45 a.m.,in response to the police query. We, therefore, find it difficult to believe, as PW3 would like us to, that a patient with extensive burn injuries whose pulse could not be felt and whose blood pressure could not be recorded, was mentally fit and making a coherent statement that he had been burnt by his wife, keeping in view the concentration of alcohal in his blood, so as to be heard so clearly by PW3. It does not appear probable to us that the deceased could have made the statement as is being attributed to him by PW3. Even without the burn injuries, because of the alcohal concentration found in the body of the deceased, he could not be making a coherent. We therefore, find it difficult to rely upon the statement of PW3.

The prosecution has also not been able to establish any motive for the appellant to commit the murder of her husband particularly when the couple had lost their 9 year old only child just a few weeks before the occurrence. According to the investigating officer there were no marks of burning on the bed and through a broken bottle smelling of kerosene was taken into possession from the deceased neither the bed nor the bedding was found to have any burn marks. No burnt article was found in the room nor any such article was seized. Had the deceased been sleeping as deposed to by PW2, when kerosene oil was poured on him and he was set on fire, the bedding could not have remained unaffected by the room by the police either.




Supreme Court of India

Ramesh Kumar vs State Of Chhattisgarh on 17 October, 2001

Evidential value of the two writings contained in diary Article A is that of dying declarations. On the principle underlying admissibility of dying declaration in evidence that truth sits on the lips of a dying person and the Court can convict an accused on the basis of such declaration where it inspires full confidence, there is no reason why the same principle should not be applied when such a dying declaration speaking of the cause of death exonerates the accused unless there is material available to form an opinion that the deceased while making such statement was trying to conceal the truth either having been persuaded to do so or because of sentiments for her husband. The writing on page 11 of diary (Article A) clearly states that the cause for committing suicide was her own feeling ashamed of her own faults. She categorically declares - none to be held responsible or harassed for her committing suicide. The writing on page 12 of diary (Article A) clearly suggests that some time earlier also she had expressed her wish to commit suicide to her husband and the husband had taken a promise from her that she would not do so. On the date of the incident, the husband probably told the deceased that she was free to go wherever she wished and wanted to go and this revived the earlier impulse of the deceased for committing suicide. The dying declaration Exbt. P/10 corroborates the inference flowing from the two writings contained in the diary and as stated hereinabove. The conduct of the accused trying to put off the fire and taking his wife to hospital also improbabilises the theory of his having abetted suicide.


013. Dying Declaration
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