One dying declaration can’t be rejected due to other version, says SC

New Delhi, April 1 (IANS) The Supreme Court has held that a version of a dying declaration cannot be rejected due to another in a case of multiple dying declarations, and instead, each version has to be examined independently based on merit for its evidentiary value.

The verdict came on an appeal filed by Nagabhushan, who was convicted for burning his wife to death for inadequate dowry. The Karnataka High Court had reversed his acquittal by the trial court and held him guilty under Section 302 of the IPC.

Upholding the the life term sentence handed down by the high court, a bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah relied upon the second dying statement of the petitioner’s wife, noting that one dying declaration cannot be rejected because of the contents of the other.

The court has to consider each of them in its correct perspective and satisfy itself which one of them reflects the true state of affairs, it added.

“When there are multiple dying declarations, each dying declaration has to be separately assessed and evaluated on its own merits,” said the bench.

The top court did not entertain the argument of the petitioner’s counsel that in the first dying declaration, the wife termed the incident as accidental fire.

However, in the second dying declaration, she explained her first statement, categorically stating that in her first statement she said that it was a case of accident due to threats by Nagabhushan that he will kill her and also their children. She also stated in the second dying declaration that she got the courage to tell the truth after her parents came.

The High Court had also noted the second dying declaration was reliable and it is supported by the circumstances, namely, the injuries sustained by the deceased, and the fact that no stove was found at the place of occurrence.

The top court also said the dying declaration of the victim reflects the true state of affairs and the contents are supported by the medical evidence and the injuries sustained by her.

As the petitioner’s counsel submitted that while filling the stove with kerosene, the woman had dropped the fuel on the floor and on her clothes, and when the candle fell down, she caught fire, the top court observed that no burn injuries were found on victim’s feet, and also no stove was found at the place of incident.

“The defence came out with a false case of accidental fire, which, as such, is not supported by any other reliable evidence. On the contrary, this evidence speaks otherwise,” the bench said, upholding the High Court decision.

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