Dying Declaration

By Manvi Jain, a Student at DME, Noida (GGSIPU)


This article explores the legal concept of a dying declaration, emphasizing its significance in court proceedings. It discusses the conditions under which a dying declaration can be accepted as evidence, the role of different individuals in recording such statements, and the need to assess the fitness of the declarant. The article also cites relevant case laws, highlighting the evidentiary value of dying declarations and presenting exceptions to their admissibility. It concludes by suggesting measures to enhance the credibility and reliability of dying declarations, underscoring their crucial role in serious criminal cases.


A circumstance in which an individual’s remark is accepted as genuine proof even though it was made with little uncertainty about the speaker’s motivations and in his own favor. Dying Declaration is that requirement. A dying declaration is a statement that a person makes outlining the reason behind their death. The dying person’s statement could provide an explanation for his death or be supported by oblique evidence. The right to announce one’s cause of death and have that declaration included as evidence in court belongs to everyone who knows they are going to die. This is due to the Latin saying “Nemo Mariturus Presumuntur Mentri,” which states that a man will not meet his maker by lying on his lips. The statement from the deceased person might be given orally, in writing, or in person. Section 32 (1) of the Indian Evidence Act describes when a statement is made by an individual as the reason for their death or as any of the conditions of the transaction that resulted in their death in cases where the cause of their death is contested. Such statements, whether made by an individual who was alive or not at the time of the anticipation of death, are important regardless of the nature of the process by which the cause of the person’s death is contested.

Who should record the ‘Dying Declaration’?

The final words spoken by the deceased may be recorded by anyone, but the person doing the recording needs to have some sort of relationship to the deceased—either directly or indirectly—through some incident or event. A typical person is not worth as much as a doctor or police officer. Regarding the deathbed statement, the magistrate was tasked with recording it because his account is seen as more reliable than the testimonies of the physician, the policeman, and the general public.

Fitness of the declarant should be examined

It is imperative for the person recording the deathbed declaration to have confidence in the maker’s consciousness and sound mental state at the moment of the announcement. If the maker’s mental condition is even slightly questioned, it would be imprudent and dangerous for the court to rely on a dying declaration. When evaluating the credibility of the victim’s deathbed declaration, it is not appropriate to take into account the fact that the accused did not disclose his injuries. The fact that the patient was conscious and in a fit mental state at the time of the dying declaration would not have mattered if the physician who certified that the patient was in a fit state to make the statement had overlooked this fact.

It is erroneous to reject the dying statement on the grounds that the magistrate did not independently establish whether the deceased was in a fit state to make a dying declaration and that the maker’s fitness depends only on the doctor’s certification. If the deceased fell into a coma and passed away while making the declaration, it would greatly affect his ability to make such a statement. The doctor’s certificate of fitness about the deceased’s health was issued. Such an opinion should be adopted by the court. This opinion needs to be carefully considered in light of all other pertinent facts and circumstances, if the case calls for it.

Expectation of death is not necessary

Under English law, the victim should not have been expecting to die. The Evidence Act modified this provision from English law. If the comment was made before the cause of death was established, it will also have great significance. Whether the recorded statement was made immediately before the victim passed away is completely irrelevant. It was determined that the deceased’s letter to his wife prior to reaching the scene of his murder was relevant in Pakala Narayan Swami v. Emperor. The court held that a person had to be dead or very close to death in order for a statement to be relevant under Section 32 of the Evidence Act. In this case, the court decided that any statement that makes clear the circumstances surrounding a person’s passing or the reason for their death qualifies as a dying declaration. Therefore, statements regarding any transactional conditions that resulted in the death would be included.

Case Laws 

  • In the case of Lakhan v. State of M.P., the Supreme Court rules that, under certain circumstances, a deceased person’s last will and testament may be used as the only foundation for conviction. These conditions include the declarant’s mental state and consciousness at the time of the statement, its voluntary nature, and the absence of coercion. Under some circumstances, supporting evidence is not necessary.
  • The Supreme Court created particular processes to decide the legitimacy of cases having numerous dying statements in the State of Punjab v. Parveen Kumar case. The court mandates that a number of tests be carried out to determine the truth. If the statements present contradictory descriptions of the circumstances and are unrelated to the facts, the court must explain the situation using additional evidence from its record so that the truth can be deduced.
  • In the case of Sudhakar v. State of Madhya Pradesh, the Supreme Court has given some instructions that will serve as a guide while the court is exercising its judgement in such cases. The Supreme Court has been faced with the issue of multiple dying declarations, which differ from other statements and have no series related to one another. This will cast doubt on whether the statement should be believed or not in the eyes of the court.
  • Natha Shankar Mahajan v. State of Maharashtra, in this case, the court decided that the gain would go to the accused if there was any doubt regarding the deceased’s declaration. Since this is the proper preposition in law. On the other hand, if the claim is determined to be accurate and reliable, it can only be used to support a conviction.
  • The Supreme Court in the case of Surajdeo Oza v. State of Bihar does not provide an affirmative response to the inquiry and held that the dying pronouncement cannot be disregarded just because it is a brief statement. Contrarily, the statement’s length by itself ensures its veracity.

Evidentiary value of ‘Dying Declaration’

The deathbed declaration can definitely be used as evidence in court according to section 32(1) of the Indian Evidence Act. It’s also not necessary to swear under oath during a dying declaration, although the witness may be cross-examined to ascertain the veracity of the statement. Even in the absence of further evidence, the court must determine what measures to take to guarantee that the defendant’s statement was sincere, freely provided, and made in a fit state of mind before it may serve as the foundation for a conviction. This is the case because a true and voluntary declaration is self-confirming.

In Khushal Rao v. State of Bombay, the Apex Court laid down the following principles related to dying declaration:

(i) There is no absolute rule of law that a dying declaration cannot be the sole basis of conviction unless corroborated. 

(ii) A dying declaration is not a weaker kind of evidence than any other piece of evidence;

(iii) Each case must be determined on its own facts keeping in view the circumstances in which the dying declaration was made.

(iv) A deathbed declaration has the same weight as other pieces of evidence and must be evaluated in the context of other factors and in accordance with the rule regulating the weight of the evidence. 

(v) A dying declaration that has been properly recorded by a competent Magistrate—that is, in the form of questions and answers and, to the extent possible, in the maker’s own words—stands on a much higher footing than one that depends on oral testimony, which is susceptible to all the flaws in human memory and character.

Exceptions of ‘Dying Declaration’

There are many circumstances in which the statement made by the dying person is not admissible in a court of law:

  • If the declarant is a youngster and there is no reason to wonder about the deceased’s cause of death.
  • If the dead made the statement under duress, in which case it cannot be regarded as evidence of any kind.
  • If the assertion is contradictory and untrue.
  • If the statement is unfinished and does not address the pertinent issues that are required to determine guilt.
  • If the deceased wasn’t in a sound state of mind when making the remark.


The final will and testament bears the most probative weight. It may be the only factor in cases of major crimes like rape, murder, and dowry deaths that result in the accused’s conviction. It must therefore be carefully documented in compliance with the rules. Here are some recommendations to increase the validity and dependability of dying declarations:

  • Rules might be established requiring the magistrate to videotape the deathbed declaration whenever possible so that it can be reviewed and verified for accuracy.
  • Anyone should be able to record a video of a dying declaration that is admissible in court in some extreme and urgent situations if it is not possible for a magistrate, doctor, or other authorised individual to record one.
  • To ensure that the authenticity and sanctity of the declaration are upheld, stricter guidelines should be published for the appropriate implementation of the standards established.
  • The entire public should be made aware of the significance of dying declaration.

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