Dying declaration to be considered whenever the cause of death comes into question

High Court for States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana: In an appeal challenging the judgment of the Sessions Court that convicted the appellant under S. 302 of the Penal Code, a Division Bench comprising of Suresh Kumar Kait and U. Durga Prasad Rao, JJ. upheld the conviction and the punishment. The case of the prosecution was that the appellant had forcibly administered poison to the deceased on account of previous grudges with the deceased’s family and also holding him responsible of practicing sorcery against him, thereby rendering him impotent. The villagers took the deceased to a hospital where he gave a dying declaration which was recorded by the Assistant Sub-Inspector of Police.

The case of the prosecution was based upon the dying declaration of the deceased, on the statements of the villagers and also on the fact that the appellant admitted to having committed the act, also informing the police as to where he had disposed off the bottle containing the poison but had later pleaded not guilty. The appellant on the other hand contended that the deceased had committed suicide in order to get relief from severe stomach pains he had been suffering from.

The Court ignored the contentions of the appellant and relied on the prosecution’s case upholding the decision of the Sessions Court. The High Court also stated that the dying declaration was an important piece of evidence incriminating the appellant. Reference was also made to S. 32 (1) of the Evidence Act, 1872, which states that a dying declaration is a relevant fact. The Court relied on some important decisions of the Supreme Court and held that “when a statement is given by a person with regard to the cause of his death or as to any of the circumstances of the transaction which resulted in his death, is a relevant factor.” Therefore, dying declaration is a relevant fact in cases where the cause of death comes into question. [Manchala Balaiah v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 2017 SCC OnLine Hyd 188, decided on June 2, 2017]

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