ARTICLE IN DETAIL: DYING DECLARATION
Dying Declaration is a concept of Law of Evidence. One must go through the article which is written in detail with the help of references. The principle of “Leterm Mortem” which means “words said before death” & in a legal term it is called ‘Dying Declaration’. A statement by a person who is conscious and knows that death is imminent concerning what he or she believes to be the cause or circumstances of death that can be introduced into evidence during a trial in certain cases. A dying declaration is considered credible and trustworthy evidence based upon the general belief that most people who know that they are about to die do not lie. As a result, it is an exception to the Hearsay rule, which prohibits the use of a statement made by someone other than the person who repeats it while testifying during a trial, because of its inherent untrustworthiness. If the person who made the dying declaration had the slightest hope of recovery, no matter how unreasonable, the statement is not admissible into evidence. A person who makes a dying declaration must, however, be competent at the time he or she makes a statement, otherwise, it is inadmissible. A dying declaration is usually introduced by the prosecution, but can be used on behalf of the accused.
In Section 32 (1) of Indian Evidence Act defines when the statement is made by the person as the cause of his death, or as any of the circumstances of the transaction which resulted in his loss of life, in cases in which the cause of that person’s death comes into question. Such statements made by the person are relevant whether the person who made them was alive or was not, at the time when they were made, under the expectation of death, and whatever may be the nature of the proceeding in which the cause of his death comes into question.
The statement made by the deceased person will be treated as Evidence and Admissible in a Court of law. The reason behind this can be followed by Latin maxim Nemo Mariturus Presumuntur Mentri which means that “Man Will Not Meet His Maker With Lying On His Mouth. More precisely in our Indian law, it is the fact that the dying man can never lie or Truth sits on the lips of dying man. Hence, the Dying Declaration is Admissible and considered as Evidence in Court, and can be used as a weapon to punish the culprit.
Section 32 (1) When it relates to cause of death.—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 exception of death, and whatever may be the nature of the proceeding in which the cause of his death comes into question.
In Ulka Ram v. State of Rajasthan Apex Court held that, “when a statement is made by a person as to cause of his death or as to any circumstances of transaction which resulted into his death, in case in which cause of his death comes in question is admissible in evidence, such statement in law are compendiously called dying declaration.”
The Apex Court in its decision in P.V. Radhakrishna v. State of Karnataka held that ‘the principle on which a dying declaration is admitted in evidence is indicated in latin maxim, nemo morturus procsumitur mentri, a man will not meet his maker with a lie in his mouth. Information lodged by a person who died subsequently relating to the cause of his death, is admissible in evidence under this clause.
Identification Through Dying Declaration
There is no particular form of dying declaration which is identified or admissible in the eye of law. But that must be functioning as a piece of evidence with the proper identification.
- Q & A form
- Gestures & signs form
- Language of statement
- Oral Declaration
- Thumb Impression
- Incomplete Statement
- Absence of medical statement of fitness
- Where interested witnesses were attending to the deceased
- Where statement is not relevant to the cause of death
- Medical Report
- FIR as dying declaration
- Dowry Death, wife burning etc
- Statements made to or implicating relatives
Evidentiary Value of Dying Declaration
In Khushal Rao v. State of Bombay, Apex Court laid down the following principles related to dying to dying declaration :
(i) There is no absolute rule of law that a dying declaration cannot be the sole basis of conviction unless corroborated. A true & voluntary declaration needs no corroboration.
(ii) A dying declaration is not a weaker kind of evidence than any other piece of evidence;
(iii) Each case must be determined on its own facts keeping in view the circumstances in which the dying declaration was made.
(iv) A dying declaration stands on the same footing as other piece of evidence & has to be judged in the light of surrounding circumstances & with reference to the principle governing the weight of evidence.
(v) A dying declaration which has been recorded by a competent Magistrate in the proper manner, that is to say, in the form of questions and answers, &, 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 & human character.
(vi) 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 in the night; whether the capacity of man to remember the facts stated had not been impaired at the time he was making the statement by circumstances beyond his control; that the statement has been consistent throughout if he had several opportunities of making a dying declaration apart from the official record of it; & that the statement had been made at the earliest opportunity & was not the result of tutoring by interested party.”
Exceptions of Dying Declaration
There are many circumstances in which the statement made by the dying person is not admissible in a court of law. These conditions are as follows:
- If there is no question for consideration about the cause of death of the deceased. For example, if a person in his declaration state anything which is not remote or having a connection with the cause of death than the statement is not relevant and hence not be admissible.
- The declarant must be competent to give a dying declaration, if the declaration is made by the child then the statement will not be admissible in court as it was observed in case of Amar Singh v. State of M.P that without the proof of mental fitness and physical fitness the statement would not be considered reliable.
- The statement which is inconsistent has no value and can not be considered as evidentiary in nature.
- The statement made by the deceased should be free from any influential pressure and should be made spontaneous.
- It is perfectly allowed to the court if they reject any untrue statement which contradicting in nature.
- If the statement is incomplete in the sense which means it can not answer the relevant questions which are necessary to found guilty, and on the counterpart, statement deliver nothing so it will not be deemed to consider.
- Doctor’s opinion and the medical certificate should with the statement and support that the deceased is capable of understanding what statement he makes.
- If the statement is not according to the prosecution. In this regard, the following points should be taken into consideration by the apex court.
- While making the statement deceased must be in fit mind of the state.
- Should be recorded by the magistrate or by a police officer and person in a case when deceased was so precarious
- A dying declaration should be recorded in question-answer form and written in words of the persons exactly who gives the statement.
The dying declaration is not specifically mentioned in our penal law under Section 32(1) of IPC. it is the statement made by the person who is going to die, and that statement will be considered as evidence in court, how his death caused and who is the mugger.