Saturday, 25 August 2018

Whether letters written by deceased related to her death are admissible as her dying declaration?

Thus, from a review of the authorities mentioned above and the clear language of Section 32(1) of the Evidence Act, the following propositions emerge:

(1) Section 32 is an exception to the rule of hearsay and makes admissible the statement of a person who dies, whether the death is a homicide or a suicide, provided the statement relates to the cause of death, or exhibits circumstances leading to the death. In this respect, as indicated above, the Indian Evidence Act, in view of the peculiar, conditions of our society and the I'lvccip nature and character of owe people, has thought it necessary to widen the sphere of Section 32 to avoid injustice.

(2) The test of proximity cannot be too literally construed and practically reduced to a cut-and-dried formula of universal application so as to be confined in a strait-jacket. Distance of time would depend on vary with the circumstances of each case. For instance, where death is a logical culmination of a continuous drama long in process and is, as it were, a finale of the story, the statement regarding each step directly connected with the end of the drama would be admissible because the entire statement would have to be read as an organic whole and not torn from the context Sometimes statements relevant to or furnishing an immediate motive may also be admissible as being a part of the transaction of death, It is manifest that all these statements come to light only after the death of the deceased who speaks from death. For instance, where the death takes place within a very short time of the marriage or the distance of time is not spread over snore, than 3-4 months the statement may be admissible under Section 32.

(3) The second part of Clause (1) of Section 32 is yet another exception to the rule that in criminal law the evidence of a person who was not being subjected to or given an opportunity of being cross-examined by the accused, would be valueless because the place of cross-examination is taken by the solemnity and sanctity of oath for the simple reason that a person on the verge of death is not likely to make a false statement unless there is strong evidence to show that the statement was secured either by prompting or tutoring.

(4) It may be important to note that Section 32 does not speak of homicide alone but includes suicide also, hence all the circumstances which may be relevant to prove a case of homicide would be equally relevant to prove a case of suicide.

(5) Where the main evidence consists of statements and letters written by the deceased which are directly connected with or related to her death and which reveal a tell-tale story, the said statement would clearly fall within the four comers of Section 32 and, therefore, admissible. The distance of time alone in such cases would not make the statement irrelevant.

Criminal Appeal No. 745 of 1983

Decided On: 17.07.1984

 Sharad Birdhichand Sarda Vs.  State of Maharashtra

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
A. Vardarajan, S. Murtaza Fazal Ali and Sabyasachi Mukherjee, JJ.

Read full judgment here: Click here

Citation:  (1984) 4 SCC 116(1) 

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