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Percentage of burns alone would not determine the credibility of dying declaration and improbability of its recording : Madhya Pradesh High Court

The Madhya Pradesh High Court in the case of Bharat Singh vs State Of M.P. (Cr.A. No. 317/2011) / Bali Singh @ Ballu Vs. State of M.P. (Cr.A. No. 342/2011) upheld that percentage of burns alone would not determine the credibility of dying declaration and improbability of its recording.

Facts of the case: On 9-3-2009, an information was sent from Hospital to the Police Station that Meena bai, W/o Bali Singh had been brought by her father in-law in burnt condition. Her entire body had been burnt. On this information, a requisition was given to the Doctor for Medical Examination of the Injured. The Dying Declaration of the injured was recorded. The injured was referred to Distt. Hospital, Guna, where she expired.

The Trial Court by order dated framed charges under Section 302, 304B of IPC against the Appellant Bali Singh, whereas framed charge under Section 304B of IPC against Appellant Bharat Singh. Challenging the Judgment of conviction, it was submitted by the Counsel for the Appellants the injured was not in a position to make dying declaration as she had suffered 100% burns. The dying declaration is not reliable.

The doctor had stated that after treating the injured Meena, he had recorded the Dying Declaration of the injured Meena, he himself is a Doctor, therefore, did not give any fitness certificate. The injured had suffered 90% burns. She was in a fit state of mind. Before recording the dying declaration, he had ousted all the persons who were in the room. He denied that the injured Meena was being instigated by the persons who were standing by the side of the bed. The injured were responding. From the plain reading of this Dying Declaration, it is clear that the Appellant had set the injured Meena on fire by pouring Kerosene Oil from the Lamp.

Judgment: It was contended by the Counsel for the Appellants that since, the deceased had suffered 100% burns, therefore, she was not in a fit state of mind to give a statement.

The court was of the opinion that if  in the facts and circumstances of the case, it is found that the maker of the statement was in a fit state of mind and had voluntarily made the statement on the basis of personal knowledge without being influenced by others and the court on strict scrutiny finds it to be reliable, there is no rule of law or even of prudence that such a reliable piece of evidence cannot be acted upon unless it is corroborated. A dying declaration is an independent piece of evidence like any other piece of evidence, neither extra strong or weak, and can be acted upon without corroboration if it is found to be otherwise true and reliable.

Percentage of burns alone would not determine the credibility of dying declaration and improbability of its recording.  Physical state or injuries on the declarant do not by themselves become determinative of mental fitness of the declarant to make the statement. No doubt, the victim has been brought with 100% burn injuries. Notwithstanding, the doctor found that she was in a conscious state of mind and was competent to give her.

Considering the totality of the facts and circumstances of the case coupled with the fact that the appellant Bali Singh, absconded from the spot, the Court was of the considered opinion that the Dying Declaration can be the sole basis for conviction. Thus, the conviction of the Appellant Bharat Singh for offence under Section 498-A of IPC and conviction of Appellant Bali Singh for offence under Section 302,498-A of IPC was upheld.

JUDGMENT REVIEWED BY : SHUBHANGI CHAUDHARY

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