” A person , who is about to die , would not lie”.
” Truth sits on the lips of a person who is about to die”
The maxim “Nemo moriturus praesumitur mentire” is basis for ”dying declaration”, which means ” a man will not meet his maker with a lie in his mouth”. A dying declaration is called as ” Leterm Mortem”. The word ‘‘ Leterm Mortem” means ‘‘ Words said before death’‘. Recording of dying declaration is very important task. Utmost care is to be taken while recording a dying declaration. If a dying declaration is recorded carefully by the proper person, keeping in mind the essential ingredients of the dying declaration, such declaration retains its full value.
Section 32 (1) of Indian Evidence Act.
A close scrutiny of section 32 (1) of Indian Evidence Act, it is vividly known when the statement is made by a person with regard to the cause of his death, or 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 irrespective of the person who made such declaration was expecting death or not . Thus, it is apt to say that admissibility of Dying declaration is explained in the section 32 (1) of Indian Evidence Act.
How a dying declaration should be?
There is no particular form of dying declaration. However, the best form of dying declaration is in the form of questions and answers. However, whenever a dying declaration is being recorded in the form of questions and answers precaution should be taken that exactly what questions are asked and what answers are given by the patient those should be written. See.Landmark ruling of Supreme Court in Laxman vs State Of Maharashtra, Appeal (crl.) 608 of 2001 Dated. 27 February, 2002. Bench: G.B. Pattanaik, M.B. Shah, Doraiswamy Raju, S.N. Variava, D.M. Dharmadhikari. 2002 Cri L J 4095, (2002) 6 SCC 710.
A dying declaration may be in the following forms:
- Written form;
- Verbal form;
- Gestures and Signs form. In the case ”Queen vs Abdulla”, it was held that if the injured person is unable to speak, he can make dying declaration by signs and gestures in response to the question.
- If a person is not capable of speaking or writing he can make a gesture in the form of yes or no by nodding and even such type of dying declaration is valid.
- It is preferred that it should be written in the vernacular which the patient understands and speaks.
- A dying declaration may be in the form of narrations. In case of a dying declaration is recorded in the form of narrations, nothing is being prompted and every thing is coming as such from the mind of the person making it.
- The presumption is ” a person who is about to die would not lie”.
- It is also said that ” Truth sits on the lips of a person who is about to die”.
- The victim is exclusive eye witness and hence such evidence should not be excluded.
Who may record a dying declaration ?
- It is best that it is recorded by the magistrate .
- If there is no time to call the magistrate, keeping in view the deteriorating condition of the declarant, it can be recorded by anybody e.g. public servant like doctor or any other person.
- It cannot be said that a dying declaration recorded by a police officer is always invalid.
- If any dying declaration is not recorded by the competent Magistrate, it is better that signatures of the witnesses are taken who are present at the time of recording it.
Important facts to be remembered before recording Dying Declaration:
- The declarant was in a fit condition of mind to give the statement when recording was started and remained in fit condition of mind until the recording of dying declaration is completed.
- The fact of fit condition of mind of declarant can be best certified by the doctor .
- Yet, in case of where it was not possible to take fitness from the doctor, dying declaration has retained its full sanctity if there are other witnesses to testify that declarant was in fit condition of the mind which did not prevent him from making dying declaration.
- However, it should not be under the influence of any body or prepared by prompting, tutoring or imagination. If any dying declaration becomes suspicious, it will need corroboration.
- If a declarant made more than one dying declarations and if these are not at variance with each other in essence they retain their full value. If these declarations are inconsistency or contradictory, such dying declarations lose their value.
Now it is very essential to know the conditions for admissibility and evidentiary value of a dying declaration. The table given infra succinctly explains the same:
|CONDITIONS FOR ADMISSIBILITY||EVIDENTIARY VALUE|
2. Admissibility of dying declaration is explained in the section 32 (1) of Indian Evidence Act.
3. When the statement is made by a person as to the cause of his death, or 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 this was expecting death or not. (See section 32 (1) of Indian Evidence Act).
13. The statement may be made before the cause of death has arisen, or before the deceased has any reason to anticipate being killed.
14. Corroboration to dying declaration not necessary. (1990 Crl.L.J 1129)
15. Exact words of deceased in dying declaration need not be stated. (1990 Crl.L.J 2720)
16. It is immaterial that the person put a thumb impression or signed a dyin declaration if the declaration is duly witnessed.
17. If a declarant, who is laying in the bed, is unable to get up to sign due his condition, or it is convenient for him to put thumb impression, he can put thumb impression.
18. There is usually no time limit that dying declaration becomes invalid.
11. Replies by signs and gestures constitute verbal statement resembling the case of a dumb person and is relevant and admissible in evidence. (AIR 1949 Nag 405)
Evidentiary value of dying declaration:-
The Supreme Court in Surinder Kumar Versus State of Haryana has discussed the law relating to the evidentiary value of a dying declaration and whether such a piece of evidence can be the sole factor for convicting an accused.
- Medical opinion cannot wipe out the direct testimony of the eyewitness stating that the deceased was in fit and conscious state to make the dying declaration . [ N Ram vs State.]
- If the person making it is imbecile or is of tender age and was incompetent to testify due to this reason, that dying declaration would not be valid [R v. Pike. C & P.1829; 3: 598]
- As a measure of safety original dying declaration should be sent to the court like FIR and its Photostat should be kept in the case file [State of Karnataka v. Shivalingappa, 2001 (4) RCR(Criminal) 237 (Karnataka) (DB)].
- Even the ”History” given by the injured recorded by the doctor in the case file has been considered as dying declaration by the honorable Court if it is mentioned that the patient told in the history that incident occurred in such and such manner which was responsible for the death of the victim [State of Karnataka v. Shariff ].
- First information report got recorded by the police has been taken as dying declaration by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, when the person did not survive to get his dying declaration recorded [AIR 1976 2199 (SC)].
- But, in the case State of Punjab v. Kikar Singh, 2002 (30 RCR (Criminal) 568 (P & H) (DB), it was held that ”when patient remained admitted in hospital for sufficient days i.e. for 8 days FIR cannot be treated as dying declaration”.
- In the case ”State v. Maregowda, 2002 (1) RCR (Criminal) 376 (Karnataka) (DB)”, it was held that ”A suicide note written found in the clothes of the deceased it is in the nature of dying declaration and is admissible in evidence under section 32 of Indian Evidence Act”.
- In the case, (State of Gujarat v. Rabri Pancha Punja. Cri LJ. 1981;NOC: 171 (Guj) , it was held that ” It retains its full value if it can justify that victim could identify the assailant, version narrated by victim is intrinsically sound and accords with probabilities and any material evidence is not proved wrong by any other reliable evidence”.
- Dying declaration becomes unreliable if it is not as per prosecution version. In the case of ” State of UP v. Madan Mohan, AIR 1989 SC 1519” , the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India held:
- It is for the court to see that dying declaration inspires full confidence as the maker of the dying declaration is not available for cross-examination
- Court should satisfy that there was no possibility of tutoring or prompting.
- Certificate of the doctor should mention that victim was in a fit state of mind. Magistrate recording his own satisfaction about the fit mental condition of the declarant was not acceptable especially if the doctor was available.
- Dying declaration should be recorded by the executive magistrate and police officer to record the dying declaration only if condition of the deceased was so precarious that no other alternative was left.
- Dying declaration may be in the form of questions and answers and answers being written in the words of the person making the dying declaration. But court cannot be too technical.
- In Barati vs State Of U. P,1974 AIR 839, 1974 SCR (3) 570, it was held that ”There was no reason to discard the dying declaration made by the appellant to the police sub-inspector, The trial Court was wrong in rejecting the dying declaration to the police (F.I.R.) on the ground that the deceased had stated to the doctor that he had become unconscious after the occurrence. There was nothing in the statement recorded by the doctor to indicate that the deceased remained unconscious for. a long time and as such was not in position to lodge the F.I.R. The fact that the language used in the dying declaration made to the doctor was rather chaste would not go to show that the said statement could not have been made by the deceased. As to the language used in the dying declaration there is nothing abnormal or unusual in the same person using colloquial language while talking to one person and using refined language while talking to another person. ”
- Pakala Narayana Swami vs Emperor ((1939) 41 BOMLR 428; AIR 1939 PC 47 ) on 19/1/1939 , In this case, the statement of Pakala Narayana Swamy’s wife ” he is going to Berhampur to get back his amount” was considered as ”DYING DECLARATION”.
Some important case-law on ”Dying declaration”:
- Autar Singh v. The Crown, AIR 1924 Lah 253
- Pakala Narayana Swami v Emperor, AIR 1939 PC 47
- Hanumant v. State of Madhya Pradesh , 1953CriLJ129
- State v. Kanchan Singh, AIR 1954 All 153
- Ratan Gond v. State of Bihar , 1959CriLJ108
- Allijan Munshi v. State of Maharashtra, (1959) 61 BOMLR 1620
- Rajindra Kumar v. State of Punjab, 1960 Cri LJ 851 (P&H)
- Harbans singh v state of Punjab, AIR 1962 SC 439
- Shiv Kumar v. State of Uttar Pradesh , 1966 Cri AR 281,
- Lallubhai v. State of Gujarat, AIR 1972 SC 1776
- Onkar v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 1974 CriLJ 1200 (MP)
- Barati vs State Of U. P,1974 AIR 839
- Munnu Raja and Anr. v. The State of Madhya Pradesh AIR 1976 SC 2199
- State of Gujarat v. Rabri Pancha Punja. Cri LJ. 1981;NOC: 171 (Guj)
- Manohar Lal v. State of Punjab , 1981 CriLJ (SC) 1373
- State of Punjab v. Savitri Devi, 1983 (2) Crimes 547
- Sharad Birdhichand Sarda v. State of Maharashtra , 1984CriLJ1738
- State of UP v Ram Sagar Yadv, AIR 1985 SC 416
- State (Delhi Administration) v. Laxman Kumar and Ors, AIR 1986 SC 250
- State of Assam v Mahim Barakataki, AIR 1987 SC 98
- State of UP v. Madan Mohan. AIR 1989 SC 1519
- Charipally shakaararao v Public prosecutor HC of AP AIR 1995 SC 777
- State of Rajasthan v kishore, AIR 1996 SC 3035
- Paniben v state of Gujarat, 1992 (2) SCJ 509
- State of HP v Hem Raj, 1992 SLC 158 P 169 (HP)
- Jagga Singh v. State of Punjab, AIR1995 SC 135
- Najjam Faraghi in alias Nijjam Faruqui v. State of West Bengal 1996CriLJ866
- S. Walia v. State of Punjab 1998 CriLJ (SC) 2524
- Shyam Singh Hada v State of Rajasthan, 2000 Cri LJ 1437 (Raj)
- Sudhakar & Anr v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 2000 SC 2602
- Ronal Kiprono Ramkat v State of Haryana , AIR 2001 SC 2488
- State v. Maregowda, 2002 (1) RCR (Criminal) 376 (Karnataka) (DB)
- State of Punjab v. Kikar Singh, 2002 (30 RCR(Criminal) 568 (P & H) (DB)
- Santosh Kumar v State of U.P., 2002 CriLJ (SC) 301
- State v. Maregowda, 2002 (1) RCR (Criminal)376 (Karnataka) (DB)
- Laxman v. State of Mahrashtra, 2002 Cri L J 4095, (2002) 6 SCC 710
- Shambhu v State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 2002 SC 1307
- P V Radha Krishna v. state of Karnatka, AIR 2003 SC 2859
- Narain Singh v. State of Harayana , AIR 2004 SC 1616
- Viramji Mohatji Thakore v. State of Gujarat, 2005 (2) GLR 1622
- Dil Bahadur Tamag v. State of sikkim, 2005 CrLJ 786 p 798
- Raja Ram v. State of Rajasthan, (2005) 5 SCC 272
- Viramji Mohatji Thakore v. State of Gujarat, 2005 (2) GLR 1622
- Nirmal Lousi v. State of Banaswadi police, Bangalore, 2005 (1) Kar L J 213
- State of Punjab v. Chatinder Pal Singh and Ors, AIR 2009 SC 974
With propound sense of regret, I crave the indulgence of the officials and others concerned , who record dying declaration, it is suggested that whenever dying declaration is to be recorded, it must be recorded very carefully keeping in mind the sanctity which the court of law attaches to the dying declaration.
 ILR 7 385
 Yet, it was held that ”Dying declaration incomplete as deceased not being able to answer further, held could be relied upon. (AIR 1956 SC 168). ”
 State of Haryana vs Manageram & others (AIR 2003 SC 558)
 Pakala Narayana Swami vs Emperor
 (1998) 7 SCC 284
 AIR 1993 SC 374.
 (52 Cr.L.J 883)
 AIR 1981 SC 1578.
 Cri LJ 1988 1313
 AIR 1988 SC 912: 1988 Cri LJ 1485
 2003 CAR 219-228, (SC)