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Deceased’s mental and physical health essential to consider Dying Declaration true and reliable: Supreme Court

The plea to acquit appellant of all the charges was upheld by the Supreme Court through the learned bench led by HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE B.R. Gavai in the case of MAKHAN SINGH v. THE STATE OF HARYANA (Criminal Appeal Case No. 1290 of 2010)

FACTS OF THE CASE: Brief facts of the case are as follows; In the present case the wife of the appellant had passed after consuming a poisonous substance. The issue that arose in the case was that the deceased had recorded two dying declarations. Ms. Vani Gopal Sharma, the First Class Judicial Magistrate, Kurukshetra, entered the first declaration of death. The deceased claimed in this declaration that she had a fever and had accidentally taken a green pill because there were so many other medications on the Angithi. The parents of the deceased Manjit Kaur, however, arrived to the hospital the day after the declaration was recorded and requested that the statement of the deceased Manjit Kaur be recorded again in accordance with Section 164 of the Cr.P.C. In response to this request, Ms. Kanchan Nariala, Judical Magistrate, First Class, Kurukshetra, recorded Manjit Kaur’s statement. According to this second dying declaration, the deceased claimed that the appellant and his parents gave her a toxic drug and that her husband had wanted Rs. 6 lakhs in order to travel to the United States. On the basis of the second dying declaration, the appellant was charged under Section 304-B of the IPC. The appellant was found guilty by the trial court in accordance with IPC Section 304-B. The trial court, however, decided that the other two accused—the appellant’s parents—were entitled to the benefit of the doubt and cleared them. The defendant received a 10-year sentence that included hard labour in prison. While the High Court upheld the appellant’s appeal and upheld the conviction under Section 304-B of the IPC, it reduced the sentence imposed to 7 years.The appellant then approached the Supreme Court.

JUDGEMENT: After reviewing the submissions of both the sides, the Hon’ble court opined that in the facts and circumstances of the present case, the first dying declaration would have to be considered to be more reliable and trustworthy as against the second one. It also noted that on the basis of very same evidence, the trial court, by giving benefit of doubt, had acquitted the father and mother of the appellant. In that view of the matter, conviction of the appellant on the very same evidence, in their view, was improper…The benefit of doubt which has been given to the other accused by the trial court, ought to have been equally given to the present appellant when the evidence was totally identical against all the three accused. Thus the Hon’ble court acquitted the appellant of all the charges.

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Judgement reviewed by – Abhinav Paul Mathew

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