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Corroborative Evidence Required If It Is Doubtful Whether Deceased Was In Fit State Of Mind While Making Dying Declaration: SC [Read Judgment]

Ashok Kini
9 April 2019 11:35 AM GMT
Corroborative Evidence Required If It Is Doubtful Whether Deceased Was In Fit State Of Mind While Making Dying Declaration: SC [Read Judgment]
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The Supreme Court has observed that, though conviction can solely be based on dying declaration, corroborative evidence may be required when there is doubt as to whether the victim was in a fit state of mind to make the statement. The bench comprising Justice SA Bobde and Justice Deepak Gupta acquitted Sampat Babso Kale and his sister who were convicted by the Bombay High Court for...

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The Supreme Court has observed that, though conviction can solely be based on dying declaration, corroborative evidence may be required when there is doubt as to whether the victim was in a fit state of mind to make the statement.

The bench comprising Justice SA Bobde and Justice Deepak Gupta acquitted Sampat Babso Kale and his sister who were convicted by the Bombay High Court for murder of his wife by pouring Kerosene.

The High court had reversed the acquittal by the Trial Court in this case. To convict the accused, the High Court mainly relied on the dying declaration, in which statements were made by the deceased that her husband and sister in law poured kerosene on her and set her on fire.

Dying declaration was recorded by the Special Judicial Magistrate, Pune. It had also come on record that the victim had 98% burns and the doctor has stated from the record that a painkiller was injected at 3.30 a.m. and the dying declaration had been recorded thereafter.

Noticing these facts, the Apex court bench, in the appeal filed by accused, observed that there is a serious doubt whether the victim was in a fit state of mind to make the statement. The Court said:

"She was suffering from 98% burns. She must have been in great agony and once a sedative had been injected, the possibility of her being in a state of delusion cannot be completely ruled out."

The bench also observed that the endorsement made by the doctor that the victim was in a fit state of mind to make the statement has been made not before the statement but after the statement was recorded. Normally it should be the other way round, the bench added.

The court said that the dying declaration is an extremely important piece of evidence and where the Court is satisfied that the dying declaration is truthful, voluntary and not a result of any extraneous influence, the Court can convict the accused only on the basis of a dying declaration. But, the Court observed:

"In the present case, as we have already held above, there was some doubt as to whether the victim was in a fit state of mind to make the statement. No doubt, the doctor had stated that she was in a fit state of mind but he himself had, in his evidence, admitted that in the case of a victim with 98% burns, the shock may lead to delusion. Furthermore, in our view, the combined effect of the trauma with the administration of painkillers could lead to a case of possible delusion, and therefore, there is a need to look for corroborative evidence in the present case."

Suicide Cannot Be Totally Ruled Out

Yet another circumstance which the court noted in favour of the accused was that the Mangalsutra, peinjan and other ornaments were kept removed by the deceased. The bench said:

"Mangalsutra, peinjan and even glass bangles are such ornaments which an Indian married woman would normally not remove. In Indian society these are normally worn by the ladies all the times. Therefore, the defence version that the deceased took off all these ornaments and then went to the kitchen and committed suicide cannot be totally ruled out."

Read Judgment


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