Victim can give dying declaration to anyone

Doctors' certificate not essential, says apex court

Dying declaration of a victim can be recorded by anyone and it is not essential to procure a fitness certificate by a doctor for the purpose, the Supreme Court has held.

However, the person recording the statement must ascertain that the victim is in proper state of mind and fit to tell the truth, the court added.

“The law on the issue can be summarised to the effect that it does not provide who can record a dying declaration, nor is there any prescribed form, format or procedure for the same.

The person who records a dying declaration must be satisfied that the maker (of declaration) is in a fit state of mind and is capable of making such a statement. Moreover, a doctor certificate in respect of state of mind of the deceased is not essential in every case,” a bench of Justices B S Chauhan and Dipak Misra said.

The court explained the legal position while awarding life imprisonment to a man and his parents for burning his wife to death on November 29, 2002, in Madhya Pradesh.

In her statement, Kusumbai, the victim, alleged that her mother-in-law had poured kerosene on her and her father-in-law had set her on fire. Her husband Chandrabhan, had closed the door.

In their plea, the accused contended that there were two statements of the victim, one recorded by an executive magistrate and another by investigating officer in the form of FIR and there was contradiction as to who had set her on fire.

They also questioned the thumb impression obtained on both statements as she was claimed to have suffered 100 per cent burns.

The apex court, however, rejected their arguments by saying one cannot be expected in such a physical condition to give exact version of the incident. It also pointed out that during the trial, the accused had not questioned the magistrate or the investigating officer if the skin of thumb was intact or not, thereby losing their chance to raise such a doubt at the stage of appeal.

The apex court set aside the 2006 order of the MP High Court and restored the trial court order, holding the three guilty under Section 302 (murder) and 498-A (cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code.

SC points

-Victim cannot be expected to give exact version of the incident in such a physical condition.

-The apex court set aside the 2006 order of the MP High Court and restored the trial court order

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