“A man will not meet his Maker with a lie in his mouth”
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” – Is the philosophy in law underlying admittance in evidence of dying declaration. “A dying declaration made by person on the verge of his death has a special sanctity as at that solemn moment, a person is most unlikely to make any untrue statement. The shadow of impending death is by itself the guarantee of the truth of the statement made by the deceased regarding the causes or circumstances leading to his death. A dying declaration, therefore, enjoys almost a sacrosanct status, as a piece of evidence, coming as it does from the mouth of the deceased victim. Once the statement of the dying person and the evidence of the witnesses testifying to the same passes the test of careful scrutiny of the Courts, it becomes a very important and a reliable piece of evidence and if the Court is satisfied that the dying declaration is true and free from any embellishment such a dying declaration, by itself, can be sufficient for recording conviction even without looking for any corroboration” – Is the statement of law summed up by this Court in Kundula Bala Subrahmanyam vs. State of A.P., (1993) 2 SCC 684. The Court added – such a statement, called the dying declaration, is relevant and admissible in evidence provided it has been made by the deceased while in a fit mental condition. The above statement of law, by way of preamble to this judgment, has been necessitated as this appeal, putting in issue acquittal of the accused respondents from a charge under Section 302/34, I.P.C. seeks reversal of the impugned judgment and invites this Court to record a finding of guilty based on the singular evidence of dying declaration made by the victim. The law is well settled; dying declaration is admissible in evidence. The admissibility is founded on principle of necessity.
A dying declaration, if found reliable, can form the basis of conviction. A Court of facts is not excluded from acting upon an uncorroborated dying declaration for finding conviction. A dying declaration, as a piece of evidence, stands on the same footing as any other plece of evidence. It has to be judged and appreciated in the light of the surrounding circumstances and its weight determined by reference to the principles governing the weighing of evidence. It is, as if the maker of the dying declaration was present in the Court, making a statement, stating the facts contained in the declaration, with the difference that the declaration is not a statement on oath and the maker thereof cannot be subjected to cross-examination. If in a given case a particular dying declaration suffers from any infirmities, either of its own or as disclosed by other evidence adduced in the case or circumstances coming to its notice, the Court may as a rule of prudence look for corroboration and if the infirmities be such as render the dying declaration so infirm as to prick the conscience of the Court, the same may be refused to be accepted as forming safe basis for conviction.
In the case at hand, the dying declarations are five. However, it is not the number of dying declarations which will weigh with the Court. A singular dying declaration not suffering from any infirmity and found worthy of being relied on may form the basis of conviction. On the other hand if every individual dying declaration consisting in a plurality is found to be infirm, the Court would not be persuaded to act thereon merely because the dying declarations are more than one and apparently consistent.