Dying Declaration not Invalid if not Certified by a Doctor- Supreme Court

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May 03, 2019

Case name: Poonam Bai v. The State of Chhattisgarh

The present appeal assails High Court’s order, whereby the Court convicted the appellant under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code for committing the murder of the deceased Vimla Bai. Here it would be relevant to mention that there were no eye witnesses to the incident in question and the prosecution’s case mainly rested on two dying declarations.

Bench’s Verdict

In view of the facts and circumstances and evidence adduced in the case, the Three-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court held that the dying declaration was not trustworthy and acquitted the appellant accordingly. While refusing to rely on the dying declaration, the Supreme Court made some essential observations pertaining to dying declaration in the case as under:

That there cannot be any dispute that a dying declaration can be the sole basis for convicting the accused. However, such a dying declaration should be trustworthy, voluntary, blemishless and reliable.

That in case the person recording the dying declaration is satisfied that the declarant is in a fit medical condition to make the statement and if there are no suspicious circumstances, the dying declaration may not be invalid solely on the ground that it was not certified by the doctor. That insistence for certification by the doctor is only a rule of prudence, to be applied based on the facts and circumstances of the case.

The real test is as to whether the dying declaration is truthful and voluntary. It is often said that man will not meet his maker with a lie in his mouth. However, since the declarant who makes a dying declaration cannot be subjected to cross­examination, in order for the dying declaration to be the sole basis for conviction, it should be of such a nature that it inspires the full confidence of the court.

The entire case can be accessed here.

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