A dying declaration is a statement made by a declarant, who is unavailable to testify in court (typically because of the declarant’s death/illness), who made the statement under a belief of certain or impending death. The statement must also relate to what the declarant believed to be the cause or circumstances of the declarant’s impending death.
Section 32(1) of the Indian Evidence Act states that the word ‘dying declaration’ means a statement written or verbal of relevant facts made by a person, who is dead. It is the statement of a person who had died explaining the circumstances of his death. A statement by a person who is conscious and knows that death is imminent concerning what he or she believes to be the cause or circumstances of death that can be introduced into evidence during a trial in certain cases.
A dying declaration is considered credible and trustworthy evidence based upon the general belief that most people who know that they are about to die do not lie. As a result, it is an exception to the hearsay rule, which prohibits the use of a statement made by someone other than the person who repeats it while testifying during a trial, because of its inherent untrustworthiness. If the person who made the dying declaration had the slightest hope of recovery, no matter how unreasonable, the statement is not admissible into evidence. A person who makes a dying declaration must, however, be competent at the time he or she makes a statement, otherwise, it is inadmissible. A dying declaration is usually introduced by the prosecution, but can be used on behalf of the accused.
Cases in which statements of relevant fact by person who is dead or cannot be found— statement, written or verbal, or relevant facts made by a person who is dead, or who cannot be found, or who has become incapable of giving evidence, or whose attendance cannot be procured without an amount of delay or expanse which, under the circumstances of the case appears to the Court unreasonable, are themselves relevant facts in the following cases:
- When it relates to cause of death.
- Or is made in course of business.
- Or against interest of maker.
- Or gives opinion as to public right or custom or matters.
- Or relates to existence of relationship.
- Or is made in will or deed relating to family.
- Or in document relating to transaction mentioned in section 13, clause (a).
- Or is made by several persons and expresses feelings relevant to matter in question.
In Ulka Ram v. State of Rajasthan Apex Court held that, “when a statement is made by a person as to cause of his death or as to any circumstances of transaction which resulted into his death, in case in which cause of his death comes in question is admissible in evidence, such statement in law are compendiously called dying declaration.”