|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
No conviction if there is doubt over dying declaration: SC
March 05, 2006 11:34 IST
Observing that suspicion is no substitute for proof, the Supreme Court has said that if there is doubt about the correctness of a dying declaration, courts should look for some corroborative evidence before convicting an accused on the basis of it.
"Indisputably conviction can be recorded on the basis of dying declaration alone but therefore the same must be wholly reliable," a Division Bench of Justice S B Sinha and Justice P P Naolekar said.
It said "if evidence brought on records suggests that such dying declaration does not reveal the entire truth, it may be considered only as a piece of evidence in which event conviction may not be rested on the basis thereof."
If a dying declaration was of an impeccable character would depend upon several factors - physical and mental condition of the deceased was one of them, the Bench said.
The Bench reversed a Madras High Court order which upheld the conviction of one P Mani for killing his estranged wife by setting her on fire in Kanyakumari District of Tamil Nadu in October 1998 on the ground that the dying declaration of the deceased was not reliable.
"In this case the circumstances which have been brought on records clearly point out that what might have been stated in the dying declaration may not be correct," the Bench said."If the deceased had been nurturing a grudge against her husband for a long time, she while committing suicide herself may try to implicate him so as to make his life miserable," it noted holding the presumption about admissibility of dying declaration was not available. "The conviction and sentence of the accused must be based on cogent and reliable evidence brought on record by the prosecution," it said.