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Dying declaration is not the last word: SC
September 28, 2007 13:02 IST
The Supreme Court has cautioned that it is unsafe to convict a person on the basis of a dying declaration alone, where suspicion is raised as regards the veracity of the deceased's statement.
In such cases where there are suspicion about the deceased's statement, "the court may have to look for some corroborative evidence by treating dying declaration only as a piece of evidence", a bench of Justices R V Raveendran and B Sudershan Reddy observed, while acquitting a murder convict.
According to the apex court, the medical evidence and surrounding circumstances altogether cannot be ignored and kept out of consideration by placing exclusive reliance upon the testimony of a person recording a dying declaration.
In the instant case the appellant Nallapati Sivaiah was convicted to life imprisonment by a sessions court in Andhra Pradesh for the alleged murder of a person Dasari Srinivasa Rao with the help of two others due to previous enmity.
Rao was inflicted as many as 63 stab injuries by the attackers on January 1, 1998 while he was coming out of a cinema theatre.
However, the apex court after careful perusal of the records and arguments noted that it would have been impossible for a person who sustained 63 stab injuries to make a coherent dying declaration at the hospital immediately after being shifted from the incident site.
The apex court reasoned that the dying declaration claimed to have been made within a few hours of the attack contained conflicting claims. While in one declaration the deceased claimed to have faced the attack while coming out of the theatre, in the other he is stated to have said that the attack occurred while he was proceeding to the cinema house.
"In the circumstances can it be said that the victim was conscious and coherent and in a fit condition to give the statement? This aspect of the matter is required to be considered in the background of the victim receiving as many as 63 injuries on his body," the apex court observed.
The bench said the medical reports had indicated that the injuries sustained by the deceased was sufficient enough to push him into a coma which makes it impossible for a person to make a dying declaration. Hence, the apex court acquitted the accused of the charges.