Multiple dying declarations-Apex court notices that the present is a case where the second dying declaration has been rejected completely by the High Court. In these circumstances, the cumulative weight of evidence relied upon by the High Court needs to be examined to ascertain whether the appellant is guilty of the offence he stands convicted for, i.e., Section 498A IPC. Ex. P-26, the second dying declaration is the only piece of evidence which names the appellant as one of the perpetrators of cruelty on the deceased along with the other accused. Both the courts below have noticed that in Ex. P-11, the first dying declaration, the appellant has not been named; rather he along with his father took the deceased in a critically injured state to the hospital. Undoubtedly, the focus of the first dying declaration is only upon the incident involving pouring of kerosene and setting the deceased on fire. The second dying declaration, Ex. P-26 alone elaborates acts of cruelty. That is the only piece of incriminating evidence against the accused. As far as the recovery of articles and the smell of kerosene in the report considered by the court are concerned, they are circumstances relating to the incident of setting the deceased on fire. They do not further the prosecution’s case under Section 498A as against the appellant.

A dying declaration is admissible in evidence under Section 32 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872. It alone can also form the basis for conviction if it has been made voluntarily and inspires confidence. If there are contradictions, variations, creating doubts about its truthfulness, affecting its veracity and credibility or if the dying declaration is suspect, or the accused is able to create a doubt not only with regard to the dying declaration but also with regard to the nature and manner of death, the benefit of doubt shall have to be given to the accused. Therefore much shall depend on the facts of a case. There can be no rigid standard or yardstick for acceptance or rejection of a dying declaration.

Though under Section 133 of the Evidence Act, it is not illegal to convict a person on the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice, illustration (b) to Section 114 of the Act, lays down as a rule of prudence based on experience, that an accomplice is unworthy of credit unless his evidence is corroborated in material particulars and this has now been accepted as a rule of law.

Although a dying declaration recorded by a Police Officer during the course of the investigation is admissible under Section 32 of the Indian Evidence Act is view of the exception provided in sub section (2) of Section 162 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, it is better to leave such dying declarations out of consideration until and unless the prosecution satisfies the court as to why it was not recorded by a Magistrate or by a Doctor.

AIR 2001 SC 2383 : (2001) 3 SCR 777 : (2001) 6 SCC 118 : JT 2001 (5) SC 280 : (2001) 4 SCALE 241 : (2001) CriLJ SC 3302 (SUPREME COURT OF INDIA) Smt. Laxmi Appellant Versus Om Prakash and others Respondent (Before : R. C. Lahoti And Doraiswamy Raju, JJ.) Criminal Appeal No. 717 of 1994, Decided on […]

A dying declaration made to a police officer is admissible in evidence, however, the practice of dying declaration being recorded by Investigating Officer has been discouraged and this Court has urged the Investigating Officer availing the services of Magistrate for recording dying declaration if it was possible to do so and the only exception is when the deceased was in […]

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