Mechanical approach in relying on dying declaration needs to be avoided

Supreme Court: Asking the Courts to be careful while dealing with dying declarations, the Court held that a mechanical approach in relying upon a dying declaration just because it is there is extremely dangerous. The court has to examine a dying declaration scrupulously with a microscopic eye to find out whether the dying declaration is voluntary, truthful, made in a conscious state of mind and without being influenced by the relatives present or by the investigating agency who may be interested in the success of investigation or which may be negligent while recording the dying declaration.

Regarding the approach to be followed in case of more than one dying declaration, the bench of Kurian Joseph and R.K. Agrawal, JJ held that the intrinsic contradictions in such dying declarations are extremely important. It cannot be that a dying declaration which supports the prosecution alone can be accepted while the other innocent dying declarations have to be rejected. However, it was held that the courts below are fully entitled to act on the dying declarations and make them the basis of conviction, where the dying declarations pass all the above tests. It was further held that The courts must bear in mind that each criminal trial is an individual aspect. It may differ from the other trials in some or the other respect and, therefore, a mechanical approach to the law of dying declaration has to be shunned. [State of Gujarat v. Jayrajbhai Punjabhai Varu, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 688, decided on 11.07.2016]

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