Kalawati and others
CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 35 OF 2013 Decided on March 25, 2021
BENCH- Navin Sinha, Krishna Murari, JJ.
The deceased had suffered 95% burn injuries at home on 17.09.1991 at about 4:30 pm while making tea. She was brought to Safdarjung Hospital at 6:00 pm. She is said to have initially told the police at the hospital that she had been set on fire by her husband. The deceased was examined by the said Dr. Anant Sinha at about 6:00 pm and prepared her MLC(medico legal case). She is stated to have told him that she had been set on fire by the wife of her husband’s elder brother while making tea. The MLC records her as being fully conscious. It is signed only by the Doctor who has not been examined. The deceased is then stated to have made a dying declaration before police that she was set on fire by her sister-in-law by pouring kerosene oil while she was making tea and that her husband had brought her to the hospital. It bears her right toe impression as her hands were burnt. The statement bears the signature of Dr. Anant Sinha. The MLC does not bear any endorsement by the Doctor with regard to his presence during the recording of the same and the fit state of mind by the deceased to make the statement. The trial court and High Court acquitted the respondents i.e. sister-in-law and husband and hence this appeal from the victim’s family.
Whether the two courts below i.e. High Court and trial court erred in acquitting the respondents?
The Supreme Court dismissing the appeal and affirming the judgment of the Courts below said that the first statement of the deceased made to police is based on hearsay as deposed by another witness that she was set on fire by her husband. Furthermore, there is no reference to respondent, sister-in-law, in this statement and neither has victim said anything about dowry demand. The Supreme Court examining the next statement of the deceased, blaming her sister-in-law said that the victim’s statement does not name her specifically. Furthermore, it is stated that the dying declaration is not signed by anybody and the Doctor who recorded the statement has not been examined, hence its cannot establish the correctness of its contents. The next statement of the deceased has been recorded by another police officer, blaming respondent,sister-in-law, alone without any allegation against respondent, husband, and on the contrary states that she was brought to the hospital by respondent, husband, without disclosing any dowry demand. The Supreme Court traversing through the facts said that doctor who recorded the dying declaration does not state that the deceased was in a fit state of mind to make the statement.
Therefore, the Supreme Court stating the law of dying declaration said that it is admissible in evidence under Section 32 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 and it alone can also form the basis for conviction if it has been made voluntarily and inspires confidence. If there are contradictions, variations, creating doubts about its truthfulness, affecting its veracity and credibility or if the dying declaration is suspect, or the accused is able to create a doubt not only with regard to the dying declaration but also with regard to the nature and manner of death, the benefit of doubt shall have to be given to the accused. Therefore, the Supreme Court without interfering with the decision of Courts below dismissed the appeal.