Meaning of Dying Declaration Indian Laws do not provide a definition of dying declaration but the same could be understood by perusing a Law Dictionary. Before adverting any further, an earlier post by me in relation to credibility of dying declaration could also be perused. Black’s Law Dictionary (
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Meaning of Dying Declaration Indian Laws do not provide a definition of dying declaration but the same could be understood by perusing a Law Dictionary. Before adverting any further, an earlier post by me in relation to credibility of dying declaration could also be perused. Black’s Law Dictionary (8th Edition) defines ‘dying declaration’ as under: - “A statement by a person who believes that death is imminent, relating to the cause or circumstances of the person’s impending death.The statement is admissible in evidence as an exception to the hearsay rule.” The relevant provision of law in this regard is Section 32 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, which reads as under: - “Statements, written or verbal, of relevant facts made by a person who is dead, or who cannot be found, or who has become incapable of giving evidence, or whose attendance cannot be procured, without an amount of delay or expense which under the circumstances of the case appears to the Court unreasonable, are themselves relevant facts in the following cases: --(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.……..” Important Judicial Precedents in relation to Reliability of Dying Declaration K. Ramachandra Reddy v. Public Prosecutor, (1976) 3 SCC 618 – Once the court is satisfied that the dying declaration is true and voluntary it can be sufficient to found the conviction even without any further corroboration. Khushal Rao v. State of Bombay, AIR 1958 SC 22 – In this case, some important postulates were laid down with respect to reliability of dying declarations: - 1. There cannot be an absolute rule of law that a dying declaration cannot form the sole basis of conviction unless it is corroborated and that is a weaker kind of evidence. 2. Each case is to be judged on its own merits and circumstances. 3. Dying declaration stands on the same footing as another piece of evidence and has to be judged in light of the circumstances. 4. “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, and, 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 and human character.” 5. The circumstances like the opportunity of the dying man for observation, whether the statement has been consistent throughout if he had several opportunities of making a dying declaration apart from the official record of it and whether the statement had been made at the earliest opportunity and was not the result of tutoring by interested parties, have to be kept in mind while testing the reliability of a dying declaration. Tapinder Singh v. State of Punjab, (1970) 2 SCC 113 – “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. It is, therefore, not tested by cross-examination on behalf 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. The weak points of a dying declaration just mentioned merely serve to put the court on its guard while testing its reliability, by imposing on it an obligation to closely scrutinise all the relevant attendant circumstances.” Lallubhai Devchand Shah v. State of Gujarat, (1971) 3 SCC 767 – The person who recorded the dying declaration must be satisfied that the deceased was in a fit state of mind. Kundula Bala Subrahmanyam v. State of A.P., (1993) 2 SCC 684 – The Court stated that 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 and such a dying declaration, by itself, can be sufficient for recording conviction even without looking for any corroboration. If there are more than one dying declarations, then the court has also to scrutinise all the dying declarations to find out if each one of the