The facts of the case are that the accused persons were charged and convicted at the trial court for the offences under Sections 498A (Husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty); 304B (Dowry death); 302 (murder) read with Section 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention). They sought to appeal against the decision of the trial court by attacking the credibility of the evidence that supported the facts as stated by the prosecution’s side.

While considering the weightage given to the dying declaration stated by the deceased in this case, the court observed that it rests on the maxim of “nemo moriturus proesumitur mentiri” which is an exception to the general rule of inadmissibility of hearsay evidence and states that when confronted with death, such a person will speak only the truth.

The court made reference to the guidelines with regard to admissibility of dying declaration as laid down by the apex court in Atbir v. Govt. (NCT of Delhi) (2010) 9 SCC 1. Further, the court held that on the grounds that the incident was narrated to the Sub-divisional Magistrate in its entirety in answer to a question put forth by the SDM. Additionally, the evidence was corroborated with the medical evidence, the post mortem report and the other statements of the deceased’s relatives who were eye-witnesses.

The dying declaration was not to be called into question because of the administration of a drug, since the doctor on duty gave the opinion that the patient was fit for statement and there was a sufficient time gap between the administration of the drug and the time when the statement was recorded.

The court noted that the dying declaration could not be called into question merely on the grounds that it was given to an Executive Magistrate and not a Judicial Magistrate, stating that,

The magistrate being a disinterested witness and is a responsible officer and there being no circumstances or material to suspect that the magistrate had any animus against the accused or was in any way interested for fabricating a dying declaration, question of doubt on the declaration, recorded by the magistrate does not arise.”

The bench of justices Siddharth Mridul and I.S Mehta relied upon the judgment of Apex Court in Laxman v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 2002 SC 2973 to state the aforementioned ruling. Thus, this case presents an overruling of procedural irregularities by the weightage given to evidence, specifically dying declaration, as it has immense importance in a court of law.

Link to judgment: Firoza v. State

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