Conviction can be solely based on dying declaration without corroboration: SC

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that a conviction can be solely based on the dying declaration without corroboration.

A bench of Justices M.R. Shah and B.V. Nagarathna, citing previous judgments by the top court, said: “It is observed and held that if the court is satisfied that the dying declaration is true and voluntary, it can base its conviction on it, without corroboration.”

The bench, citing judgments like State of Uttar Pradesh V. Ram Sagar and others (1985) and Ramawati Devi V. State of Bihar (1983), said: “Therefore, there can be a conviction solely based upon the dying declaration without corroboration.”

In this matter, a woman in Uttar Pradesh was set on fire allegedly by her father-in-law and mother-in-law, after she refused to give them money. A murder case was registered against the accused.

In this case, the trial court convicted the accused by relying on the dying declaration recorded by the magistrate, and did not accept the accused’s contention that the deceased herself poured the kerosene on herself. However, the high court acquitted the accused, as it refused to rely on the dying declaration. The Uttar Pradesh government filed an appeal in the top court.

The top court noted there are two dying declarations, one recorded by the police officer on December 20, 2011, and another recorded by the magistrate/SDM on December 22, 2011. The high court did not believe the dying declaration recorded before a magistrate, stating that the police officer had already recorded it earlier.

“The trial court has rightly observed as to the weight and reliance that must be placed on the dying declaration of the deceased. There was no reason for the High Court to disregard the dying declaration of the deceased,” it said.

The bench said the statements made by the deceased in her dying declaration are consistent with medical evidence which reveals that there were burns on all parts of the body, except chest and sides of the abdomen and back. “The burns are at such parts as could have resulted when a person, other than the deceased, poured kerosene and set fire to it,” said the bench.

Setting aside the high court judgment, the top court said: “Considering the dying declaration recorded by the SDM/Magistrate on December 22, 2011, the accused can be convicted for which they were tried.”

It directed the accused to surrender before court or jail authority to undergo life sentence forthwith.

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