Dying declaration to be examined carefully if dictated by someone else

Dying Declaration

The Supreme Court of India on Wednesday held that the credibility of a dying declarations should be considered carefully as it comes under suspicion on several occasions. The apex court made this observation while referring to cases where the dying declaration is not the ‘actual words’ of the deceased, and has been dictated by someone else.

“Sanctity is attached to a dying declaration because it comes from the mouth of a dying person,” said a division bench comprising Justice Shiva Kirti Singh and Justice R M Lodha.

“If dying declaration is recorded not directly from the actual words of the maker but as dictated by somebody else, in our opinion, this by itself creates a lot of suspicion about credibility of such statement and the prosecution has to clear the same to the satisfaction of the court,” the bench added.

The bench also set aside a 2002 judgment by the Karnataka High Court where it reversed a lower court verdict that acquitted three accused in a murder case.

Clarifying its stand on the issue, the Supreme Court stated that the accused are “entitled to the benefit of doubt” specially in appeals against acquittals as the finding have been arrived at by the trial judge who had the benefit of assessing the witnesses and their testimonies.”

The bench also observed that the appellate courts, while deciding appeals against, ought to consider certain specific issues including “there is presumption of innocence in favor of an accused person and such presumption is strengthened by the order of acquittal passed in his favor by the trial court.”