Truthful dying declaration may form sole basis of conviction, even though it is not corroborated

High Court of Himachal Pradesh: While deciding a criminal appeal challenging the judgment of the trial court whereby the appellant was convicted under Section 302 IPC, a Division Bench comprising of Tarlok Singh Chauhan, J. and Chander Bhusan Barowalia, J. dismissed the petition and upheld the conviction of the appellant based on the dying declaration of the victim.

The appellant was married to the deceased. He was accused of murder of the deceased by causing burn injuries to her. His conviction by the Trial Court was mainly based upon the dying declaration of the deceased. Learned counsel for the appellant contended that the dying declaration was not recorded in accordance with law and no reliance could have been placed by the Court to convict the appellant on basis of such statement.

The High Court perused the record and was of the view that a dying declaration itself has been made admissible under Section 32 of the Evidence Act and is an exception to the hearsay rule when it is made by the declarant at the time when it is believed that the declarant’s death was near or certain. The law on the subject is well settled that truthful dying declaration may form sole basis of conviction, even though it is not corroborated, however, reliability of dying declaration should be subjected to close scrutiny and Court must be satisfied that the declaration is truthful. The Court found it proved on record that at the time of making such statement there were very bleak chances of the victim surviving as she otherwise also succumbed to such burn injuries. The Court also found it established beyond reasonable doubt that deceased was set ablaze by the accused after pouring kerosene oil. The Court found no reason for doubting the dying declaration made by the deceased as there was no cogent evidence to establish any material discrepancies. Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed and conviction of the appellant by the trial court was upheld. [Gopal Singh v. State of H.P., 2017 SCC OnLine HP 1722, order dated 14.12.2017]

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