Comparative Analysis Of Dying Declaration Under Indian Evidence Act , 1872 & Federal Rules Of Evidence Under United States Of America Law
The concept of dying declaration holds immense importance in the Indian legal
system. It is the statement given by a person who is on the verge of death,
shortly before their demise. The Indian Evidence Act, formulated in 1872,
recognizes dying declarations as a valuable piece of evidence in criminal cases.
This essay aims to explore the various aspects of dying declaration under the
Indian Evidence Act, focusing on its formal nature, its importance, and the
limitations surrounding its admissibility.
Formal Nature of Dying Declaration:
A dying declaration is a type of oral evidence given by a person who reasonably
believes that their death is impending. The Indian Evidence Act considers it to
be a relevant fact as it can provide crucial insights into the circumstances and
events leading to the person's injury or death. Although a dying declaration is
a statement made orally, certain formalities need to be observed for its
Under Section 32(1) of the Indian Evidence Act, a dying declaration is
admissible as evidence if it meets the following conditions: (a) it must be made
by the person who is deceased, (b) it must relate to the cause of death, or the
circumstances leading to the death, (c) it must be made under a clear belief by
the declarant that their death was imminent, (d) it must be made voluntarily and
without any external influence, and (e) it must contain statements against the
interest of the declarant's killer or assailant.
Importance of Dying Declaration:
Dying declarations play a significant role in the criminal justice system as
they serve as an exception to the general rule against hearsay evidence. The
Indian Evidence Act allows the admissibility of such statements primarily due to
their probative value and their significance in revealing the truth when no
other evidence is available.
The importance of dying declaration lies in its ability to provide direct
evidence from the deceased, who often may be the only witness to the crime. This
type of evidence helps the court in forming a clear understanding of the events,
identifying the accused, and establishing criminal liability. It adds
credibility to the prosecution's case, especially when supported by medical
evidence or other circumstantial evidence.
Limitations Surrounding Admissibility:
While dying declarations are considered as strong evidence, the Indian Evidence
Act recognizes the need for caution and imposes certain limitations on their
admissibility. The law aims to ensure that dying declarations are given
truthfully and voluntarily, without undue influence or manipulation.
One of the main limitations is the requirement of corroboration, as highlighted
in Section 114 and 32 of the Indian Evidence Act. Although there is no legal
mandate for corroboration, courts often seek some external evidence that
strengthens the dying declaration and safeguards against fabrication. The nature
and extent of corroboration depend on the facts and circumstances of each case.
Another limitation arises from the fact that dying declarations are oral
evidence, susceptible to potential inaccuracies, misinterpretations, or even
complete fabrication. The court must carefully analyze the declaration for
inconsistencies, contradictions, or signs of external influence. Judges and
juries play a crucial role in assessing the reliability and credibility of the
declaration, considering the condition of the declarant and the surrounding
In India, a dying declaration is considered an exception to the hearsay rule,
allowing the court to admit statements made by a person who is on the verge of
death as evidence. The rationale behind this exception is to safeguard the
truthfulness and reliability of such declarations, as it is presumed that
individuals in life-threatening situations have minimal incentives to fabricate
facts. The Indian legal system recognizes oral, written, or gestures-based dying
declarations as valid evidence, emphasizing the importance of the substance
rather than the formalities surrounding the declaration.
Conversely, the United States follows a stringent approach when admitting dying
declarations as evidence. The American legal system generally adheres to the
face-to-face confrontation principle, which ensures the accused has the right to
cross-examine witnesses against them. As a result, dying declarations in the
United States are more closely scrutinized, often requiring a higher degree of
formality. For instance, under the Federal Rules of Evidence, the dying
declaration must pertain to the cause or circumstances leading to the person's
impending death, and they must explicitly believe their death to be imminent.
While oral declarations are allowed, the written form is often preferred due to
its higher evidentiary weight.
Moreover, another significant difference arises in terms of corroboration
requirements. In India, the Supreme Court has emphasized that a dying
declaration does not require corroboration to be considered credible. This
highlights the trust placed in the dying declaration itself, given the unique
circumstances under which it is made. This departure from the requirement of
corroboration allows the Indian courts to heavily rely on the dying declaration
as the lone and decisive evidence in reaching a verdict ( Kushal Rao Vs State
Of Bombay ) .
On the contrary, the United States employs a more cautious approach by requiring
some degree of corroboration. Dying declarations in the U.S. are typically
subjected to an evaluation of the reliability and trustworthiness of the
statement. Courts assess factors such as the declarant's mental state, motive to
lie, and any inconsistencies within the declaration. While the requirement for
corroboration acts as a safeguard against wrongful convictions, it may also
limit the evidentiary weight given to a dying declaration in certain cases.
In conclusion, the Indian dying declaration and its American counterpart differ
considerably in terms of formality and procedures. India prioritizes the
substance of the dying declaration, allowing for greater flexibility in the
forms it may take and requiring no corroboration. Conversely, the United States
adheres to stricter guidelines, emphasizing formality, and necessitating at
least some degree of corroboration. These differences demonstrate that while
both legal systems recognize the importance of dying declarations as credible
evidence, they approach the matter with distinct perspectives, reflecting
variations in their evidentiary standards and safeguards.
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