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Dying Declaration – Exact statement made by the deceased should be available to the Court

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NATIONAL LEGAL RESEARCH DESK

Kanti Lal v State of Rajasthan / Citation: AIR 2009 SC 2703 / Supreme Court of India / SS. 304B and 498A IPC, S. 113B Indian Evidence Act

In this case the accused asked for Rs. 50,000/- as loan for starting a business which they wanted to be treated as dowry by the parents of the deceased. The in-laws did not allow the deceased to go with her father to her paternal home just ten days before the death of the deceased unless the loan of Rs. 50,000/- had been adjusted and treated as dowry money. On refusal by her father, the husband of the deceased started ill-treating her. Finally, the girl’s parents came to know that she is in hospital, wherein she was brought with severe burn injuries, causing her death.

The Court in this case relied upon the decision made by SC in Hira Lal and Ors. v State [Govt. of NCT] AIR 2003 SC 2865, this Court reiterated that the essential ingredients to attract application under Section 304B are that:

 [i] the death of a woman should be caused by burns or bodily injury or otherwise than under a normal circumstance

[ii] such a death should have occurred within seven years of her marriage,

[iii] she must have been subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or any relative of her husband,

[iv] such cruelty or harassment should be for or in connection with demand of dowry, and

[v] such cruelty or harassment is shown to have been meted out to the woman soon before her death.

Further it is said that the presumption under Section 113B of Evidence Act, 1872 is a presumption of law. On proof of the essential mentioned therein, it becomes obligatory on the court to raise a presumption that the accused caused the dowry death. The essentials required to be proved for raising the said presumption are that:

[i] the question before the court must be whether the accused has committed the dowry death of the woman,

[ii] the woman was subjected to cruelty or harassment by her husband or his relatives,

[iii] such cruelty or harassment was for or in connection with any demand for dowry, and

[iv] such cruelty or harassment was soon before her death.

Further, the Court herein discussed the proper way to prepare dying declaration also. It emphasized that unless the dying declaration is in question and answer form it is very difficult to know to what extent the answers have been suggested by questions put. Further, that what is necessary is the exact statement made by the deceased should be available to the Court. It was also stated that if the doctor happened to be present at the time of recording of the dying declaration and he had heard the statement made by the deceased, he would ordinarily endorse that the statement had been made to his hearing and had been recorded in his presence. The endorsement as made is indicative of the position that a statement had been recorded and the same was being attested by the doctor.

In the present case, these basic principles are ignored by D.W. 2 at the time of recording of the alleged dying declaration of the deceased. As noticed above, the doctor has not made any endorsement on the dying declaration to state that it was recorded in his presence and attested by him. The mother of the deceased refused to put her thumb-impression on the said document.

Finally, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of husband and jeth (brother-in-law) of the deceased for 10 years u/S. 304B and 3 years u/S. 498A.

Kanti Lal vs State Of Rajasthan – AIR 2009 SC 2703

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