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Dying Declaration

By Dr. Y.Srinivasa Rao, Judicial Officer.

Dying Declaration is a statement 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 and it becomes relevant under Section 32 (1)  of the Indian Evidence Act in a case in which the cause of that person’s death comes into question. It is true that a dying declaration is not a deposition in court and it is neither made on oath nor in the presence of the accused. But a dying declaration is admitted in evidence by way of an exception to the general rule against the admissibility of hearsay evidence, on the principle of necessity, Tapinder Singh v. State of Punjab, (1970) 2 SCC 119. 

 “Dying declaration” is the last statement made by a person at a stage when he is in serious apprehension of his death and expects no chances of his survival. At such time, it is expected that a person will speak the truth and only the truth. Normally in such situations, courts attach intrinsic value of truthfulness to such statement. Once such statement has been made voluntarily, it is reliable and is not an attempt by deceased to cover up truth or falsely implicate a person, then courts can safely rely on such dying declaration and it can form the basis of conviction. More so, where version given by deceased as dying declaration is supported and corroborated by other prosecution evidence, there is no reason for courts to doubt truthfulness of such dying declaration, Shudhakar v. State of M.P., (2012) 7 SCC 569.

Deathbed or Dying Declarations are constantly admitted in evidence. The principle of this exception to the general rule is founded partly on the awful situation of the dying person, which is considered to be as powerful over his conscience as the obligation of an oath and partly on a supposed absence of interest in a person on the verge of the next world, which dispenses with the necessity of cross-examination. But before such declarations can be admitted in evidence against a prisoner, it must be satisfactorily proved that the deceased, at the time of making them, was conscious of his danger and had given up all hope of recovery (R. v. Perry, (1909) 2 KB 697) and this may be collected from the nature and circumstances of the case, although the declarant did not express such an apprehension. It is not essential that the party should apprehend immediate dissolution; it is sufficient if he apprehend it to be impending. The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1867, 30 & 31 Vict. c. 35, Sections 6, 7, makes provision for taking the depositions of persons dangerously ill and making the same evidence after death and for prisoners being present at the taking of such depositions. As the declarations of a dying man are admitted on a supposition that in his awful situation, on the confines of a future world, he had no motive to misrepresent, but, on the contrary, the strongest motive to speak without disguise and without malice, it necessarily follows that the party against whom they are produced in evidence may enter into the particulars of his state of mind and of his behaviour in his last moments or may be allowed to show that the deceased was one not likely to be impressed by a religious sense of his approaching dissolution and for rejection on a trial for murder of an exclamation of the dying victim in the presence of her speechless murderer (who was convicted and executed), see R. v. Bedingfield, (1879) 14 Cox 341.

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