Can the identification through Dying Declaration be considered and made
One of the cardinal principles of law of evidence suggests that facts must
always be proved by direct evidence. Section 60 of the Evidence Act, provides
that oral evidence in all cases must be direct and that hearsay evidence is
inadmissible due to its inaccurate and untrustworthy nature.
However, necessitated by its extraordinary nature an exception is made for a
Dying Declaration i.e. a statement of a person just before he died explaining
the circumstances of his death. It is based on the maxim nemo mariturus
i.e. a man will not meet his maker with lie on his mouth.
Identification through a dying declaration is considered by courts and is
undoubtedly relevant in ensuring justice is served.
This principle has been codified in Section 32 of Indian Evidence Act and as a
result Statements made by a person as to the cause of his death or as any of the
circumstances of the transaction which resulted in his death are themselves
relevant facts and admissible in evidence and in fact it could form the sole
basis of conviction.
Conversely it is also necessary that Courts ensure that the record of the dying
declaration is correct and faithful. Therefore, as far as possible the dying
declaration should be recorded in the manner hereinafter prescribed, and in the
event of death of the person making it, should be submitted at the enquiry or
What is the impact of incomplete statements?
The dying declaration in order to be admissible in evidence under Section 32 (1)
of the Evidence Act must be materially and substantially complete. In Cyril
Waugh v. The King
 it was held that the dying declaration was inadmissible
because, prima facie, it was incomplete and no one could tell what the deceased
was about to add.
The Supreme Court through a plethora of judgements has clarified that in certain
cases even an incomplete declaration can be admissible.
In the case Abdul Sattar v. State of Mysore
, it was held that although the
dying declaration is incomplete since it had unmistakably pointed out the guilt
of the accused, it can be made admissible under Section 32 (1).
Furthermore, it has been held that a dying declaration need not be exhaustive
and disclose all the surrounding circumstances. It cannot be ruled out entirely
because of an omission to refer to a particular circumstance of the
Thus, in India the Supreme Court has laid down that even though a statement is
incomplete as long as the dying declaration unmistakably points out the guilt of
the accused then there is no harm in relying on such incomplete declaration.
What is the evidentiary value of a Statement if declarant survives
Another point of contention is when even though a dying declaration is recorded
the declarant does not end up dying.
A statement made is only converted in dying declaration when the victim/
declarant dies. If the declarant does not die, then the declarant can be used as
a witness in the court against the accused. It is said that the dying
declaration is only recorded on the presumption that the declarant is about to
die. And the declarant won’t lie just before dying. But if the declarant does
not die then the statement can’t be admissible as dying declaration.
In Ramprasad vs the State of Maharashtra
 it was observed by the Supreme Court
that while making the statement, the declarant should have been under the
expectation of death and if a person making dying declaration survives, then his
statement cannot be used under section 32 of the Indian Evidence Act but it is a
statement in terms of section 164 of CrPC.
It is also important to note that Sec.32 does not prescribe an ascertained nexus
of time between the declaration and the death of the declarant.
Thus, a the statement becomes a dying declaration only if the victim dies.
Evidentiary value of dying declaration together with exceptions thereof
Through a catena of judgements like Khushal Rao v. State of Bombay, Kusa v.
State of Orissa
 and K.R. Reddy v. Public Prosecutor
, the Supreme Court
has culled out following principles related to the evidentiary value of dying
1. A dying declaration can be the sole basis of conviction. A true and
voluntary declaration needs no corroboration since the shadow of impending death
is by itself the guarantee of the truth of the statement made. 
2. A dying declaration is not a weaker kind of evidence than any other
piece of evidence;
3. Each case must be determined on its own facts keeping in view the
circumstances in which the dying declaration was made.
4. A dying declaration stands on the same footing as another piece of
evidence & has to be judged in the light of surrounding circumstances & with
reference to the principle governing the weight of evidence.
5. A dying declaration should wherever possible be recorded by a competent
Magistrate in the form of questions and answers in the words of the maker of the
6. In order to test the reliability of a dying declaration, the court has
to keep in view the circumstances like the opportunity of the dying man for
7. The Court is required to be satisfied, that there was no element of
tutoring, the deceased was in a fit state of mind and the statement was not a
product of his imagination.
A dying declaration is not admissible when (this list is illustrative, not
1. the deceased made statement before his death about anything except the
cause of his death,
2. the decision is doubtful, inconsistent, substantially incomplete, proved
to be untrue and influenced through coercion,
3. the declarer is not a competent witness for instance in Amar Singh v.
State of Madhya Pradesh, it was held that without proof of mental or
physical fitness, the dying declaration was not reliable.
4. the statement made by the deceased does not relate to his death, but to
the death of another person, it is not relevant
Evidentiary value of Dying Declaration based on suspicion
Where the prosecution case purely based on dying declaration which is plagued by
so many suspicious circumstances creating a doubt as to its genuineness, such
evidence of dying declaration would hardly be sufficient to maintain the
When the dying declaration recorded by Magistrate was neither signed by the
deceased not contained date and time of its recording. In the absence of any
explanation for being given by the prosecution that the deceased was not in a
position to sign it, the dying declaration was held to be inadmissible. 
In 2011 the Bombay High Court in Natha Shankar Mahajan v. State of
, held if there is any suspicion about this dying declaration,
the benefit must go to the accused.
Thus, a dying declaration is not to be believed only if there are patent
suspicious circumstances surrounding the same.
Evidentiary value of a Medical officers opinion and about the fit and conscious
state of the deceased, effects of being medicated, delusional etc
A dying declaration recorded by a medical officer is admissible and of
evidentiary value, as a doctor is an independent person can never be
disbelieved. In cases where the doctor finds that the life is ebbing fast in
the patient and there is no time either to call the Police or the Magistrate in
such a situation the doctor is justified, indeed he is duty-bound to record the
dying declaration. He is not only a respectable witness but an impartial
expert and, thus, his recording of declaration deserves respect.
While recording the statement of the victim, it is very important to examine the
health of the victim. It is of paramount importance that the magistrate is
cognizant of the impact of drugs administered, which could lead to erroneous
statements. Judicial Magistrate or the doctor as the circumstance may be should
satisfy himself that the victim is in a fit condition to give a statement to
ensure if that the person is conscious of the surroundings and is in a fit state
of mind to make the dying declaration.  A certificate proving that the
statement given was in fit condition and it is true should be obtained by the
judicial magistrate from the doctors examining the victim.
Conclusion and suggestions to improve the prevailing Law of the Land
Dying declaration is of paramount evidentiary value and can be a sole factor for
conviction of the accused in cases of heinous crimes like murder, dowry death
and rape. Hence, while it should undoubtedly be recorded carefully with all the
procedure that the court has mentioned the following are suggestions to improve
the reliability and veracity of dying declarations.
Firstly, guidelines could be issued mandating that as far as practicable, the
dying declaration should be video recorded by the magistrate so it can be
examined and analysed for its veracity. With an increasing number of the
population having smartphones this solution could greatly reduce disputes
regarding dying declarations.
Moreover, in certain exceptional and urgent circumstances where it is not
possible for a magistrate or doctor or any authorized individual to record a
dying declaration, anybody should able to record a video of a dying declaration
which should be admissible in court.
Furthermore, stricter guidelines should be issued for proper implementation of
the rules laid down to ensure the veracity and sanctity of the declaration is
Lastly, awareness should be spread amongst the general public about dying
declaration and its importance.
 P.V. Radhakrishna v. State of Karnataka, 2001 (6) SCC 118
 Singh v. The State (AIR 1962 SC 439)
 Khushal v. State of Bombay (AIR 1958 SC 22)
 54 Cal WN 503
 AIR 1979 SC 1505
 State v. Govinda Pillai, AIR 1952 Trav. & ch 449.
 Gopal v. State of M.P, AIR 1972 SC 1557.
 1999 SCC(Cr) 651
 1980 2 S.C.C. 207
 1976 SCC (3) 618
 Laxmi v. Omprakash, (2001) 6 SCC 118.
 State of Gujarat v. Rabri Pancha Punja. Cri LJ. 1981;NOC: 171 (Guj) 11
 Nand Kumar v. state of Maharastra. Cri LJ 1988; 1313 12
 1996 Cr LJ (MP) 1582,
 State of UP v. Madan Mohan. AIR 1989 SC 1519:1989 Cri LJ 1485h
 State of M.P. v. A Singh, (2005) 3 SCC 169.
 (2011) 15 SCC 219
 Sripatrao v. State of Maharashtra (2000) 10 SCC 320
 AMA Rehman v. State of Gujarat, AIR 1976 SC 1782
 Gulzarilal v. State of Haryana, AIR 2016 SC 795
 State of Haryana v. Harpal Singh, AIR 1978 SC 1530 1978 Cr.LJ 1603 (SC).