SC and HC Judgments Online at MyNation

Judgments of Supreme Court of India and High Courts

Jagbir Singh vs State (Nct Of Delhi) on 4 September, 2019

REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 967 OF 2015

JAGBIR SINGH … APPELLANT(S)

VERSUS

STATE (N.C.T. OF DELHI) … RESPONDENT(S)

J U D G M E N T

K.M. JOSEPH, J.

1. The appellant stands convicted under Sections 302

and Section506 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter

referred to as ‘the SectionIPC’, for short) by the Trial

court, and the appeal carried by him before the High

Court being unsuccessful and is, therefore, before this

Court.

2.
Signature Not Verified Briefly, the case of the prosecution against the
Digitally signed by
ANITA MALHOTRA
Date: 2019.09.04

appellant is as follows:

17:21:44 IST
Reason:

1
The deceased was married to the appellant in

the year 1999. He was unemployed at that time.

Later, he secured employment in the C.R.P.F.. He

did not take his wife on the basis that he could

not take her far away. Wife continued to reside

with the mother of the deceased at her house.

Appellant used to harass his wife and had illicit

relationship with the wife of his brother. A

Panchayat was held. A settlement was arrived at,

pursuant to which, after four years, when the

appellant was transferred to Delhi, he assured the

mother of the deceased that he will not harass his

wife and he started residing at the house along

with his wife and mother-in-law. It is the further

case of the prosecution that the appellant

continued to have an affair with the wife of his

brother. On 23.01.2008, the mother of the deceased

went to the matrimonial home of another daughter.

On 24.01.2008, at about 06.00 P.M., the appellant

2
came to the house under influence of liquor, and

in short, poured kerosene oil upon his wife and

also some kerosene oil over himself and threw a

lighted matchstick on his wife. Initially, both,

the appellant and the deceased, were taken to the

hospital. Initially, the wife gave statement which

did not implicate the appellant. However, on

27.01.2008, a dying declaration was made by the

deceased pointing the finger of blame clearly at

the appellant and attributing the act of pouring

kerosene and setting her ablaze to him. Initially,

a First Information Report was lodged on

27.01.2008 on the basis of the dying declaration

dated 27.01.2008 under Section 307 of the IPC,

which was, upon the deceased succumbing to the

burn injuries, converted to Section 302 of the

IPC. This is besides a charge under Section 506 of

the IPC for extending threat to his wife.

3

3. 31 witnesses were examined by the prosecution.

After closure of prosecution evidence, appellant was

questioned under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal

Procedure, 1973 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Code’

for short).

FINDINGS BY THE TRIAL COURT

4. It is a case where there are two dying

declarations, viz., one made on 24.01.2008 and another

on 27.01.2008. In regard to the statement on 24.1.2008

it is actually the history which is recorded in the

M.L.C. of the deceased and it is stated that it has

noted history of sustaining thermal burns when her

husband was trying to ignite a match stick for smoking;

accidently a fire erupted due to petrol leaking from

the tank of the motorcycle as told by the patient

herself. Patient got burnt along with her husband.

Patient is unable to tell the cause of kerosene smell

from her body.

4

5. The Trial Court noticed the contention that PW29-

Investigating Officer admitted that, on 25.01.2008, the

mother of the deceased also made a statement on the

lines of what her daughter had made which appeared to

clear the appellant of any wrong doing.

6. Commenting on PW10-Smt. Indrawati, the Court wades

through her evidence and found that the witness has

reached the place after the incident and seen both the

deceased as well as the accused in the burnt condition.

She was not an eyewitness to the incident. The same was

found true about Chhoto Devi-PW7-the mother of the

deceased. The statement is of no avail with regard to

the dying declaration made on 24.01.2008. We may advert

to paragraph 49 in regard to the first version:

“49. As per the first version, it was
leaking of petrol pipe of the motorcycle,
which was the cause of fire and sustaining
of burn injuries by both the accused and
the deceased, and in this regard, the
testimony of PW-30 is very material. PW-30
Dr. Thakur Thussu has stated that as per
MLC Ex. PW-30/A of accused Jagbir and
Ex.PW-30/B of deceased Santosh, the
alleged history given was of thermal burns
when the accused was trying to ignite the

5
matchstick for smoking and accidentally a
fire erupted and probably due to nearby
leaking of petrol tank, they got engulfed
in fire, but at that very time, Dr. K.K.
Sharma, who had examined them and who had
left the hospital (and his present
whereabouts could not be ascertained and
because of the same reason, request was
sent to Medical Superintendent, Safdarjung
Hospital, to depute any doctor or doctor
or doctors conversant with the handwriting
and signature of Dr. K.K. Sharma and who
can depose about the contents of the MLC.
PW-30 Dr. Thakur Thussu, Sr. Resident,
Deptt. Of Burns and Plastic Surgery,
Safdarjung Hospital, was called), in the
MLC itself, the history was disbelieved by
the doctor, who has specifically mentioned
that both the husband and wife were unable
to tell the cause of kerosene oil
emanating from their body and on
examination, smell of kerosene was
emanating from the body, and special note
in this regard was appended by Dr. K.K.
Sharma that the patient is not giving a
proper history.”

7. The differentiation between smell of petrol and

kerosene oil has been explained by PW31-Senior

Scientific Assistant (Chemistry). It was further found

that the deceased had deep burns present over her face,

neck, anterior trunk, lower part, both upper limbs,

portions of both lower limbs. The study of the injuries

6
ruled out sustaining burn injuries from leaking petrol

of a motorcycle as it was highly unlikely that upper

portion of the body will be burnt so as the fire

travelled from downward to upward. Only a very small

quantity would have leaked out in case of the petrol

leaking. The biri has not been recovered. Clothes were

seized from the house which were in burnt condition and

kerosene oil was present in the house immediately after

the incident and much before the recording of the dying

declaration dated 27.01.2008, demolished completely the

defence of the appellant. The appellant has not given

any explanation in regard to the presence of kerosene

oil in the house or how the clothes contained residue

of kerosene oil. The case set up by the appellant

regarding the conspiracy of other sisters of the

deceased and his brother-in-law with the mother of the

deceased to deprive him of the property, is found to be

frivolous. The argument that dying declaration dated

27.01.2008 was a long one, and therefore, should not be

relied upon, was rejected.

7

8. Regarding the Investigating Officer not obtaining

certificate from Doctor about the medical fitness of

the deceased to make the dying declaration, it was

found, not material. It was not a case where at any

point of time, the deceased was declared unfit for the

statement. No question was asked from PW30-the Doctor

that considering the nature of the burn injuries and

the medicines given to the deceased, it was not

possible for her to give a statement without being

certified. MLC-Exhibit 30/B does not show that the

patient is unfit to give a statement. Evidence of PWs

1, 7 and 29 are relied upon to repose faith in the

dying declaration. No cross-examination was conducted

in regard to PW29-Investigating Officer with reference

to his going to the hospital on the basis of the call

received from the hospital. Discrepancy in the timings,

as emerged from the testimony of PW29 and dying

declaration No. 20B, is overcome by the finding that

timings will not be remembered exactly. Regarding the

inconsistency in evidence as to whether deceased was in

8
the ward or in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), assurance

was drawn from the dying declaration wherein reference

is made to the ICU Ward. The dying declaration was got

recorded without noting as to what is the statement to

be made on the basis of a call. PW1 and PW7 have

supported the recording of the dying declaration, being

witnesses. The testimony of mother of the deceased-PW7

would reveal that though her daughter was under

sedation, she was competent to make the statement. The

first dying declaration dated 24.01.2008 was also

recorded by the Investigating Officer without

certificate issued by the Doctor. The evidence of

Dinesh (neighbour) was found to corroborate the dying

declaration. The appellant was found guilty under

Sections 302 and Section506 of the IPC and convicted

thereunder. He was awarded substantive sentence of

rigorous imprisonment for life and fine for the

offence. Further, the appellant was also sentenced to

rigorous imprisonment for two years for the offence

9
under Section 506 of the IPC. Both the sentences were

to run concurrently.

FINDINGS BY THE HIGH COURT

9. There are three dying declarations given by the

victim. At about 09.30 P.M. on 24.01.2008, the first

dying declaration was given in the form of history

given by the patient to the Doctor. It was recorded in

the MLC. No role was attributed to the appellant. The

history was recorded as one of sustaining thermal burns

when her husband was trying to ignite matchstick for

smoking and accidentally a fire erupted due to the

petrol leaking from the tank of the motorcycle. This is

stated to be told by the patient herself. It was

further recorded therein that the patient is unable to

tell the reason for kerosene smell from her body. What

is referred to as the second dying declaration and is

recorded by PW10 in his case diary on 25.01.2008, is

extracted by the High Court. The Court held:

10
“22. The second dying declaration of the
victim was recorded by the
Investigating Officer in his daily
diary on 25.01.2008. The relevant
extract of this reads herein as
under:-

“Time 01:31 P.M.. it is
entered that I, the SI
alongwith accompanying Ct.

Ram Kumar have come to the
Police Station after
investigation vide DD No. 50-

A, dated 24/01/08. On the
receipt of the call, I
reached the place of
occurrence i.e. H.No. RZ-40,
Mataji Line, Sultan Puri
Road, (sic) School, Gopal
Nagar, Najafgarh where many
burnt clothes were lying in
the gallery of the house. The
seat of a passion motorcycle
bearing Regn. No. HR-14B-1992
was found burnt and one burnt
cream coloured jeans shirt
was also lying behind the
motorcycle. And one ladies”
Kurta, one cardigan, a
salwar, shawl were lying
burnt near the front wheel of
the motorcycle. The foul
smell of kerosene oil was
coming from the whole house.

The SHO arrived at the spot
and after enquiry it was
learnt that one Jagbir Singh
lived in the house as
“gharjamai” (son-in-law
living at the in-laws” home)
alongwith his wife Santosh

11
and mother-in-law Chhoti
Devi. The mother-in-law
Chhtoi Devi had gone to the
matrimonial home of their
younger daughter Rakesh at
Rohtak. And as per the
neighbourers, husband-wife
were living all alone in the
house and the motorcycle got
fire due the leakage of
petrol from the motorcycle.

Jagbir works as sweeper in
CRPF. G-91 Mobile Crime Team
was called on wireless. The
photographs of the place of
the occurrence were taken by
the Crime Team and all the
burnt clothes and the can of
the Kerosene oil which was
kept near the drum in the
interior room and a lot of
kerosene which was also lying
outside and on the floor were
taken into the police
possession as a piece of
evidence by means of a memo.

Thereafter, I, the SI reached
S.J. Hospital after receiving
the information where Jagbir
s/o Sh. Devi Singh and
Santosh w/o Sh. Jagbir Singh
were admitted vide MLC Nos.

17608/08 and 17609/08
respectively. Jagbir was 45%
burnt and Santosh was 60%
burnt. The doctor wrote in
(sic…) that when Jagbir
ignited the match-stick for
smoking, the motor-cycle
caught fire accidently as its

12
petrol tank had been leaking.

The patient was unable to
tell the cause of kerosene
oil smell from his body.

Santosh Devi w/o Jagbir Singh
deposed that I reside with my
husband Jagbir and mother
Chhoti Devi in the house.

Earlier there had been some
problem between me and my
husband. I had got married in
the year 1999. But for the
last one year, I have been
living with my husband
happily. There is no such
quarrel between us. Today on
24/01/08 my mother had gone
to the matrimonial home of my
younger sister Rakesh at
Rohtak. My husband Jagbir
came back in the evening from
his duty as sweeper in CRPF.

We have had our dinner and
were preparing to go for
sleep. I locked the gate
while my husband was smoking
“Bidi” near the motorcycle.

All of a sudden, the
motorcycle caught fire.

Jagbir was trying to
extinguish the fire and his
clothes also caught fire.

Both of us screamed and
shouted for help. Our
neighbours saved both of us
by jumping the wall (of our
house). No one has done this
intentionally. You have
recorded my statement and
read over the same to me. I

13
have heard the statement and
the same is correct.

LTI of Santosh Devi

Thereafter, the statement of
Jagbir Singh s/o Lt. Sh. Devi
Singh was recorded who also
gave the aforesaid statement
and Mrs. Chhoti Devi also
deposed the same and told
that there was no dispute
between both of them and they
were living together happily.

Both the husband-wife had
caught fire because of the
catching of the fire by the
motorcycle due to the smoking
“Bidi” by Jagbir and leakage
of petrol from the
motorcycle. No one has
intentionally done this. I do
not suspect anyone. All the
facts were apprised to the
SHO and the call was held
pending.”

(Emphasis supplied)

10. Thereafter, the court referred to the dying

declaration on 27.01.2008, which we will refer to later

on.

11. The first dying declaration is discarded by noting

that it was in the presence of her husband. PW30-the

14
Doctor who was examined to identify the signatures of

another Doctor, viz., Dr. K. K. Sharma who had actually

prepared the MLC and who could not be examined, has

specifically stated that the smell of spirit and

kerosene is different. No possible explanation could be

given as to why kerosene smell was emanating from the

body and clothes. The presence of the appellant/her

husband inhibited the deceased from speaking the truth.

Second dying declaration, which was recorded at 01.30

P.M. on the next day 25.01.2008, was also discarded for

the same reason, viz., her husband was in the same

hospital and it was recorded in his presence. The court

discussed the evidence of the Investigating Officer-

PW29 who recorded the third dying declaration. The

court also discussed the contents of the dying

declaration and finds support from the fact that the

evidence of PW29 is supported by PWs 1 and 7. The

deceased was fully conscious and well-oriented going by

the MLC dated 24.01.2008. Her mental faculties to make

a statement, was never in challenge. The deceased,

15
being fit to make the statement on 27.01.2008, it

cannot be doubted. The defence set up by the appellant

was found to be palpably false. The dying declaration

was an answer found worthy of acceptance. The kerosene

can and also clothes were sent for scientific

examination and CFSL Report found that kerosene oil was

detected on the clothes of the appellant. No

explanation from the appellant is forthcoming about

kerosene. Site plan and also the photographs were

relied upon.

12. The High Court found no merit in the appeal and

dismissed the same.

13. We have heard learned counsel for the appellant.

14. The learned counsel for the appellant would

undoubtedly emphasise that this is a case where there

are three dying declarations. In the first two dying

declarations, which were given by the deceased herself,

no incriminatory role is attributed to the appellant.

Rather, the cause of her catching fire is attributed to

an accident generated by the appellant lighting his

16
biri. It is submitted that there is evidence of PW1-

husband of the sister of the deceased visiting the

deceased at the hospital on 26.01.2008. It is on the

very next day, i.e. 27.01.2008, as a result of the

tutoring and prompting by PW1, that the deceased comes

up with a completely different version in the dying

declaration. The mother of the deceased-PW7 was also

in the hospital. The theory of conspiracy to sabotage

the claim to the property is pressed into service.

15. In other words, the argument is painting the

appellant as the murderer, his claim to the property

would stand extinguished, thus enabling the other two

daughters to claim exclusive right. In this regard, he

would point out that PW29 has deposed that he went to

the hospital on 27.01.2008 and recorded the dying

declaration on the basis of a telephone call which came

from the hospital. He points out that the call did not

come from any Doctor as ordinarily would have been the

case if the patient wanted to make the dying

declaration but strangely it came from his co-brother,

17
viz., PW1. PW1 has admitted in his evidence that he did

indeed made the call to the Police to come and record

the statement of the sister-in-law. Therefore, the

dying declaration, in other words, is the brain child

of PW1 in pursuance to the conspiracy to oust the

appellant from property rights. He next points out that

the very case of homicide is irreconcilable with the

appellant himself suffering burn injuries to the extent

of 40 per cent. In the dying declaration, it is stated

that after pouring kerosene on the deceased, the

appellant poured less kerosene oil on himself. The

medical evidence establishes that the appellant

suffered 40 per cent burns. A reference is made to the

evidence of PW15 who is a Police Constable working with

the Police Control Room (PCR) as in cross-examination,

she has this to state:

“It is correct that as per further
proceedings mentioned in Ex.PW15/DA, it is
mentioned that the husband was smoking a
biri inside the room and lid of the petrol
tank of a motorcycle lying nearby was
lying open as a result of which the
husband got fire and wife tried to

18
extinguish the fire, she also caught fire
and that Indrawati who is their relation
had also stated so and both husband and
wife were conscious.”

16. He, therefore, would point out that the said

statement, which is recorded at the earliest point of

time after the incident, corroborates the first and the

second dying declaration and the case of accidental

burn injuries is clearly probablised.

17. The learned counsel for the State, on the other

hand, would submit that it is not correct to

characterise the first statement as dying declaration.

There is only one dying declaration and that dying

declaration was recorded on 27.01.2008. This dying

declaration is believable. The case of tutoring is

sought to be rebuffed. As far as the Officer recording

the dying declaration without the certificate from the

Doctor is concerned, it is pointed out that the very

fact that the dying declaration was recorded when the

patient was in the ward, itself shows that her

condition had not deteriorated to such an extent as

19
otherwise she would have been in the ICU. PWs 1 and 7

have witnessed the recording of the dying declaration.

They have stood by the dying declaration and evidence

of PW29-Investigation Officer. The dying declaration

dated 27.01.2008 brings out the truth. The statements

contained therein could not have been made up. Presence

of kerosene is made conspicuous by being smelt by

witnesses and also being found on the clothes by PW31-

Senior Scientific Assistant (Chemistry) and also the

admitted fact that the can from which the kerosene was

used being also sent for forensic report, squarely

establishes prosecution case.

THE LAW RELATING TO DYING DECLARATION

18. A Dying declaration is relevant evidence as

declared by Section 32 of the Indian Evidence Act,

1872. A distinction exists, however, between English

Law and Indian Law in regard to dying declaration. We

20
may, in this regard, note the declaration of the law

contained in SectionKishan Lal v. State of Rajasthan1:

“18. Now we proceed to examine the
principle of evaluation of any dying
declaration. There is a distinction
between the evaluation of a dying
declaration under the English law and that
under the Indian law. Under the English
law, credence and the relevancy of a dying
declaration is only when a person making
such a statement is in a hopeless
condition and expecting an imminent death.

So under the English law, for its
admissibility, the declarant should have
been in actual danger of death at the time
when they are made, and that he should
have had a full apprehension of this
danger and the death should have ensued.
Under the Indian law the dying declaration
is relevant whether the person who makes
it was or was not under expectation of
death at the time of declaration. Dying
declaration is admissible not only in the
case of homicide but also in civil suits.
Under the English law, the admissibility
rests on the principle that a sense of
impending death produces in a man’s mind
the same feeling as that of a
conscientious and virtuous man under oath.

The general principle on which this
species of evidence are admitted is that
they are declarations made in extremity,
when the party is at the point of death,
and when every hope of this world is gone,
when every motive to falsehood is silenced
and the mind is induced by the most
1 AIR 1999 SC 3062

21
powerful considerations to speak only the
truth. If evidence in a case reveals that
the declarant has reached this state while
making a declaration then within the
sphere of the Indian law, while testing
the credibility of such dying declaration
weightage can be given. Of course
depending on other relevant facts and
circumstances of the case.”
(Emphasis supplied)

19. But when a declaration is made, either oral or in

writing, by a person whose death is imminent, the

principle attributed to Mathew Arnold that “truth sits

upon the lips of a dying man” and no man will go to

meet his maker with falsehood in his mouth will come

into play. The principles relating to dying declaration

are no longer res integra and it would be apposite that

we refer to the decision of this Court in SectionPaniben (Smt)

v. State of Gujarat2 wherein the concepts are summed up

as follows:

“(i) There is neither rule of law nor
of prudence that dying declaration cannot
be acted upon without corroboration.

(SectionMunnu Raja v. State of M.P. [(1976) 3 SCC
104 : 1976 SCC (Cri) 376 : (1976) 2 SCR
764] )
2 (1992) 2 SCC 474

22

(ii) If the Court is satisfied that the
dying declaration is true and voluntary it
can base conviction on it, without
corroboration. (SectionState of U.P. v. Ram
Sagar Yadav [(1985) 1 SCC 552 : 1985 SCC
(Cri) 127 : AIR 1985 SC 416] ; SectionRamawati
Devi v. State of Bihar [(1983) 1 SCC 211 :
1983 SCC (Cri) 169 : AIR 1983 SC 164] ).

(iii) This Court has to scrutinise the
dying declaration carefully and must
ensure that the declaration is not the
result of tutoring, prompting or
imagination. The deceased had opportunity
to observe and identify the assailants and
was in a fit state to make the
declaration. (SectionK. Ramachandra
Reddy v. Public Prosecutor [(1976) 3 SCC
618 : 1976 SCC (Cri) 473 : AIR 1976 SC
1994] ).

(iv) Where dying declaration is
suspicious it should not be acted upon
without corroborative evidence. (SectionRasheed
Beg v. State of M.P. [(1974) 4 SCC 264 :
1974 SCC (Cri) 426] )

(v) Where the deceased was unconscious
and could never make any dying declaration
the evidence with regard to it is to be
rejected. (SectionKake Singh v. State of
M.P. [1981 Supp SCC 25 : 1981 SCC (Cri)
645 : AIR 1982 SC 1021]

(vi) A dying declaration which suffers
from infirmity cannot form the basis of
conviction. (SectionRam Manorath v. State of
U.P. [(1981) 2 SCC 654 : 1981 SCC (Cri)
581])

(vii) Merely because a dying
declaration does not contain the details

23
as to the occurrence, it is not to be
rejected. (SectionState of
Maharashtra v. Krishnamurti Laxmipati
Naidu [1980 Supp SCC 455 : 1981 SCC (Cri)
364 : AIR 1981 SC 617])

(viii) Equally, merely because it is a
brief statement, it is not be discarded.
On the contrary, the shortness of the
statement itself guarantees
truth. Surajdeo Oza v. State of Bihar[1980
Supp SCC 769 : 1979 SCC (Cri) 519 : AIR
1979 SC 1505] )

(ix) Normally the court in order to
satisfy whether deceased was in a fit
mental condition to make the dying
declaration look up to the medical
opinion. But where the eye witness has
said that the deceased was in a fit and
conscious state to make this dying
declaration, the medical opinion cannot
prevail. (SectionNanahau Ram v. State of
M.P. [1988 Supp SCC 152 : 1988 SCC (Cri)
342 : AIR 1988 SC 912])

(x) Where the prosecution version
differs from the version as given in the
dying declaration, the said declaration
cannot be acted upon. (SectionState of
U.P. v. Madan Mohan [(1989) 3 SCC 390 :
1989 SCC (Cri) 585 : AIR 1989 SC 1519])”

Also, in paragraph 19, it was held as follows:

24
“19. In the light of the above
principles, we will consider the three
dying declarations in the instant case and
we will ascertain the truth with reference
to all dying declarations made by the
deceased Bai Kanta. This Court
in Mohanlal Gangaram Gehani v. State of
Maharashtra [(1982) 1 SCC 700 : 1982 SCC
(Cri) 334 : AIR 1982 SC 839] held:

“where there are more than one
statement in the nature of dying
declaration, one first in point of time
must be preferred.”
Of course, if the plurality of dying
declarations could be held to be trust
worthy and reliable, they have to be
accepted.”

The problem of multiple dying declarations has engaged

the attention of this Court.

20. SectionIn Kundula Bala Subrahmanyam and another v. State

of Andhra Pradesh3, this Court held as follows:

“18. Section 32(1) of the Evidence
Act is an exception to the general rule
that hearsay evidence is not admissible
evidence and unless evidence is tested by
cross-examination, it is not creditworthy.

3 (1993) 2 SCC 684

25
Under Section 32, when a statement is made
by a person, as to the cause of death or
as to any of the circumstances which
result in his death, in cases in which the
cause of that person’s death comes into
question, such a statement, oral or in
writing, made by the deceased to the
witness is a relevant fact and is
admissible in evidence. The statement made
by the deceased, called the dying
declaration, falls in that category
provided it has been made by the deceased
while in a fit mental condition. A dying
declaration made by person on the verge of
his death has a special sanctity as at
that solemn moment, a person is most
unlikely to make any untrue statement. The
shadow of impending death is by itself the
guarantee of the truth of the statement
made by the deceased regarding the causes
or circumstances leading to his death. A
dying declaration, therefore, enjoys
almost a sacrosanct status, as a piece of
evidence, coming as it does from the mouth
of the deceased victim. Once the statement
of the dying person and the evidence of
the witnesses testifying to the same
passes the test of careful scrutiny of the
courts, it becomes a very important and a
reliable piece of evidence and if the
court is satisfied that the dying
declaration is true and free from any
embellishment such a dying declaration, by
itself, can be sufficient for recording
conviction even without looking for any
corroboration. If there are more than one
dying declarations then the court has also
to scrutinise all the dying declarations

26
to find out if each one of these passes
the test of being trustworthy. The Court
must further find out whether the
different dying declarations are
consistent with each other in material
particulars before accepting and relying
upon the same…”

(Emphasis supplied)

21. SectionIn Lella Srinivasa Rao v. State of A.P.4, in the

dying declaration which was recorded by the Magistrate,

there was no mention about appellant having treated the

deceased with cruelty or having caused harassment. His

name did not figure in the declaration. The deceased

was in a position to make the statement. Five minutes

thereafter, another statement was recorded by the Head

Constable. Allegations were made against the appellant.

It related to the immediate cause which led to the

deceased committing suicide. Court found that the

witnesses including the father of the deceased did not

support the case of the prosecution that the deceased

was treated with cruelty by the accused. The Court did

not act upon the second dying declaration.

4 (2004) 9 SCC 713

27

22. SectionIn Sayarabano Alias Sultanabegum v. State of

Maharashtra5, the offence involved was under Section 302

of the IPC. There was a quarrel between the

appellant/accused and the deceased, during which, it

was the case of the prosecution that appellant poured

kerosene from the lamp on the deceased which resulted

in the deceased catching fire and finally succumbing to

death. In the first dying declaration, the deceased

attributed her catching fire to an accident. She

absolved all the inmates of her husband family of any

wrong doing. When the Special Judicial Magistrate was

called on the next day for dying declaration, she set

up a different version whereunder the accused was

alleged to have thrown the kerosene lamp on her and

also that her husband used to beat her after listening

to his mother. The deceased was asked by the Magistrate

as to why she was changing the statement. The deceased

told the Magistrate that she was told that she should

not give any statement against family members and she

reiterated that the appellant/ mother-in-law of the
5 (2007) 12 SCC 562

28
deceased had thrown the kerosene lamp and she was

burnt. The deceased died almost a week thereafter. This

Court took the view that the judgment of this Court

in SectionLella Srinivasa Rao v. State of A.P.6 (supra), was

distinguishable noticing that in the said case there

was no other evidence, and this Court in SectionSayarabano v.

State of Maharashtra 2007 (12) SCC 562 also finally

held as follows:

“16. In our opinion, criminal cases
are decided on facts and on evidence
rather than on case law and
precedents. In the case on hand, there
is ample evidence to show that even
prior to the incident in question, the
appellant used to beat the deceased
and ill-treat her. It is in the light
of the said fact that other evidence
requires to be considered. In our
view, both the courts were right in
relying upon the second dying
declaration of the deceased treating
it as true disclosure of facts by the
deceased Halimabi. In the light of the
evidence of parents of the deceased
(PW 2 and PW 3), Dr. Kishore (PW 6)
and Special Judicial Magistrate (PW

5), it cannot be said that the courts

6 (2004) 9 SCC 713

29
below had committed any error and the
conviction deserves to be set aside.”

23. SectionIn Amol Singh v. State of M.P.7, the High Court

rejected the plea on the basis that there being more

than one dying declaration and on the basis that the

extent of difference between the two declarations was

insignificant:

“13. Law relating to appreciation of
evidence in the form of more than one
dying declaration is well settled.
Accordingly, it is not the plurality of
the dying declarations but the reliability
thereof that adds weight to the
prosecution case. If a dying declaration
is found to be voluntary, reliable and
made in fit mental condition, it can be
relied upon without any corroboration. The
statement should be consistent throughout.
If the deceased had several opportunities
of making such dying declarations, that is
to say, if there are more than one dying
declaration they should be consistent.

(SectionSee Kundula Bala Subrahmanyam v. State
of A.P. [(1993) 2 SCC 684 : 1993 SCC (Cri)
655] ) However, if some inconsistencies
are noticed between one dying declaration
and the other, the court has to examine
the nature of the inconsistencies, namely,
whether they are material or not. While
scrutinising the contents of various dying
7 (2008) 5 SCC 468

30
declarations, in such a situation, the
court has to examine the same in the light
of the various surrounding facts and
circumstances.”

(Emphasis supplied)

24. The court finally, in the facts of the said case,

took the view that the discrepancies made the last

declaration doubtful and it was found unsafe to convict

the accused.

25. SectionIn Heeralal v. State of M.P.8, in the first dying

declaration recorded by the Tehsildar, the deceased

stated clearly that she tried to set herself ablaze by

pouring kerosene on herself. The second dying

declaration, however, contained the contrary statement.

The Court held, inter alia, as follows:

“9. Undisputedly, in the first dying
declaration recorded by a Naib Tahsildar,
it has been clearly stated that she tried
to set herself ablaze by pouring kerosene
on herself, but in the subsequent
declaration, recorded by another Nayab

8 (2009) 12 SCC 671

31
Tahsildar, a contrary statement was made.

It appears that one dying declaration
earlier was made before the doctor. The
trial court referred to the evidence of
Dr. Chaturvedi who stated that the
deceased was admitted on Bed No. 8, but
the father of the deceased stated that her
daughter was admitted on some other bed
number.

10. The trial court and the High Court
came to abrupt conclusions on the
purported possibility that the relatives
of the accused may have compelled the
deceased to give a false dying
declaration. No material was brought on
record to justify such a conclusion. The
evidence of the Nayab Tahsildar who
recorded Ext. D-4 was examined as PW 8.

His statement was clear to the effect that
nobody else was present when he was
recording the statement. That being so, in
view of the apparent discrepancies in the
two dying declarations it would be unsafe
to convict the appellant.”
(Emphasis supplied)

The Conviction of the appellant came to be set

aside.

32

26. SectionIn Lakhan v. State of M.P.9, this Court was dealing

with the case of death as a result of burn injuries

suffered by the wife. In the first dying declaration

before the Magistrate, the deceased stated that when

she was cooking, kerosene oil had been put behind her

back. In the next dying declaration, it was stated that

the appellant/accused brought a metal container full of

kerosene and poured it on her body and the fire was lit

by him and she was burnt. This Court, after going

through all the decisions, held as follows:

”21. In view of the above, the law on
the issue of dying declaration can be
summarised to the effect that in case the
court comes to the conclusion that the
dying declaration is true and reliable,
has been recorded by a person at a time
when the deceased was fit physically and
mentally to make the declaration and it
has not been made under any
tutoring/duress/prompting; it can be the
sole basis for recording conviction. In
such an eventuality no corroboration is
required. In case there are multiple dying
declarations and there are inconsistencies
between them, generally, the dying
declaration recorded by the higher officer
like a Magistrate can be relied upon,
9 (2010) 8 SCC 514

33
provided that there is no circumstance
giving rise to any suspicion about its
truthfulness. In case there are
circumstances wherein the declaration had
been made, not voluntarily and even
otherwise, it is not supported by the
other evidence, the court has to
scrutinise the facts of an individual case
very carefully and take a decision as to
which of the declarations is worth
reliance.”

27. In the course of its discussion, the Court found

that the second dying declaration was reliable inter

alia on the ground that it was corroborated by the

earlier declaration made by the deceased to her parents

who were examined as PW1 and PW3.

28. We may also notice the judgment in SectionSher Singh v.

State of Punjab10. This is also a case of burn injuries

suffered by the deceased/wife of the appellant. Upon

being taken to the hospital, the Police Officer

recorded a statement wherein it was stated that the

fire was accidental and it happened when she was

preparing tea. When her uncle met her on the next day,

she informed that the accused had burnt her. On the

10 (2008) 4 SCC 265

34
very next day he moved an application for recording a

statement which came to be recorded. Yet another

application was moved requesting for re-examining the

matter as the deceased had made a wrong statement

before the police officer initially and another

statement was accordingly recorded.

29. In the second dying declaration, deceased had

stated that she was burnt by her in-laws. It was stated

that her father-in-law, mother-in-law and sister-in-law

poured oil on her and burnt her. She further stated

that her husband was not with her but in the next

sentence, she stated that there were four. The fourth

person was her husband. She further stated that they

had stated that unless she made a wrong statement, they

would not take her to the hospital. It was thereafter

that she made a third declaration. The Court went on to

hold as follows:

“17. In the present case, the first
dying declaration was recorded on 18-7-

1994 by ASI Hakim Singh (DW 1). The victim
did not name any of the accused persons

35
and said that it was a case of an
accident. However, in the statement before
the court, Hakim Singh (DW 1) specifically
deposed that he noted that the declarant
was under pressure and at the time of
recording of the dying declaration, her
mother-in-law was present with her. In the
subsequent dying declaration recorded by
the Executive Magistrate Rajiv Prashar (PW

7) on 20-7-1994, she stated that she was
taken to the hospital by the accused only
on the condition that she would make a
wrong statement. This was reiterated by
her in her oral dying declaration and also
in the written dying declaration recorded
by SI Arvind Puri (PW 8) on 22-7-1994. The
first dying declaration exonerating the
accused persons made immediately after she
was admitted in the hospital was under
threat and duress that she would be
admitted in the hospital only if she would
give a statement in favour of the accused
persons in order to save her in-laws and
husband. The first dying declaration does
not appear to be coming from a person with
free mind without there being any threat.
The second dying declaration was more
probable and looks natural to us. Although
it does not contain the certificate of the
doctor that she was in a fit state of mind
to give the dying declaration but the
Magistrate who recorded the statement had
certified that she was in a conscious
state of mind and in a position to make
the statement to him. Mere fact that it

36
was contrary to the first declaration
would not make it untrue. The oral dying
declaration made to the uncle is
consistent with the second dying
declaration implicating the accused
persons stating about their involvement in
the commission of crime. The third dying
declaration recorded by the SI on the
direction of his superior officer is
consistent with the second dying
declaration and the oral dying declaration
made to her uncle though with some minor
inconsistencies. The third dying
declaration was recorded after the doctor
certified that she was in a fit state of
mind to give the statement.”

(Emphasis supplied)

30. A survey of the decisions would show that the

principles can be culled out as follows:

a. Conviction of a person can be made solely on

the basis of a dying declaration which inspires

confidence of the court;

b. If there is nothing suspicious about the

declaration, no corroboration may be necessary;

c. No doubt, the court must be satisfied that

there is no tutoring or prompting;

37

d. The court must also analyse and come to the

conclusion that imagination of the deceased was

not at play in making the declaration. In this

regard, the court must look to the entirety of

the language of the dying declaration;

e. Considering material before it, both in the

form of oral and documentary evidence, the court

must be satisfied that the version is compatible

with the reality and the truth as can be gleaned

from the facts established;

f. However, there may be cases where there are

more than one dying declaration. If there are

more than one dying declaration, the dying

declarations may entirely agree with one another.

There may be dying declarations where

inconsistencies between the declarations emerge.

The extent of the inconsistencies would then have

to be considered by the court. The

inconsistencies may turn out to be reconciliable.

38
g. In such cases, where the inconsistencies go to

some matter of detail or description but is

incriminatory in nature as far as the accused is

concerned, the court would look to the material

on record to conclude as to which dying

declaration is to be relied on unless it be shown

that they are unreliable;

h. The third category of cases is that where there

are more than one dying declaration and

inconsistencies between the declarations are

absolute and the dying declarations are

irreconcilable being repugnant to one another. In

a dying declaration, the accused may not be

blamed at all and the cause of death may be

placed at the doorstep of an unfortunate

accident. This may be followed up by another

dying declaration which is diametrically opposed

to the first dying declaration. In fact, in that

scenario, it may not be a question of an

inconsistent dying declaration but a dying

39
declaration which is completely opposed to the

dying declaration which is given earlier. There

may be more than two.

i. In the third scenario, what is the duty of the

court? Should the court, without looking into

anything else, conclude that in view of complete

inconsistency, the second or the third dying

declaration which is relied on by the prosecution

is demolished by the earlier dying declaration or

dying declarations or is it the duty of the court

to carefully attend to not only the dying

declarations but examine the rest of the

materials in the form of evidence placed before

the court and still conclude that the

incriminatory dying declaration is capable of

being relied upon?

OUR CONCLUSION ON MULTIPLE DYING DECLARATION

31. We would think that on a conspectus of the law as

laid down by this court, when there are more than one

40
dying declaration, and in the earlier dying

declaration, the accused is not sought to be roped in

but in the later dying declaration, a summersault is

made by the deceased, the case must be decided on the

facts of each case. The court will not be relived of

its duty to carefully examine the entirety of materials

as also the circumstances surrounding the making of the

different dying declarations. If the court finds that

the incriminatory dying declaration brings out the

truthful position particularly in conjunction with the

capacity of the deceased to make such declaration, the

voluntariness with which it was made which involves, no

doubt, ruling out tutoring and prompting and also the

other evidence which support the contents of the

incriminatory dying declaration, it can be acted upon.

Equally, the circumstances which render the earlier

dying declaration, worthy or unworthy of acceptance,

can be considered.

CONSPIRACY

41

32. It is strenuously argued before us by the learned

counsel for the appellant that the dying declaration

dated 27.01.2008 is the result of conspiracy. PW7-the

mother-in-law of the appellant is the owner of the

property. She is a widow. She had three daughters, one

of whom was the deceased. The other two daughters were

married. PW1 is the husband of one of the daughters. It

was to eliminate the chance of appellant succeeding to

the property that PW1-the co-brother of the appellant

visits the hospital where the deceased was admitted.

She is tutored. The result of tutoring is the

controversial declaration dated 27.01.2008. This fact

receives support from the admission made by PW1 that it

was he who made the call to the Police Officer, viz.,

PW29, and PW29, without any call from the hospital

authorities, came and recorded the dying declaration.

No doubt, the cross-examination of the deposition of

PW7-mother of the deceased shows her as a witness whose

deposition exposes omissions with reference to her

statement to the Police. Likewise, there are certain

42
omissions brought out in the evidence of PW1. But for

reasons, as stated hereinafter, it would not be fatal.

33. The Trial Court has brushed aside this contention

as frivolous. The property belonged to PW7-mother-in-

law of the appellant. It is inconceivable how the

appellant would have any right either during her

lifetime or even upon her dying intestate to get the

property under the SectionHindu Succession Act, 1956. Having

regard to Sections 15 and Section16 of the Hindu Succession

Act, 1956, it is clear that the appellant cannot claim

any right. No doubt, it is always open to the person to

bequeath the property. Therefore, we would think that

that the submission in this regard is totally ill-

founded.

THE DYING DECLARATOIN DATED 27.01.2008

34. The dying declaration dated 27.01.2008 reads as

hereunder:

“I reside at my parental house along with
my mother Chhpoto Devi and husband Jagbir
Singh. My marriage took place in year
1999. In the meanwhile, for about four
years, there were differences between me
and my husband, after a settlement took

43
place in Panchayat, I along with my
husband had been residing in my parental
house.

On 24.01.2008 in the afternoon, my mother
left for matrimonial home of Rakesh at
Rohtak. My husband Jagbir works as a
Sweeper in CRPF, who came from his duty at
about 6 p.m. in a drunken position and
said to me. “You want to live with me”.
I said ‘Yes’, then Jagbir took me to a big
room and picket up a ‘can’ of kerosene oil
and poured kerosene oil upon me. He
poured kerosene oil upon me and poured
less kerosene oil upon him. Then, I got
myself free from the clutches of Jagbir
and ran towards a small room, and he came
to me after following me, and then he
ignited a matchstick and threw it upon me,
and immediately my clothes caught fire.
After that when I, in order to save
myself, ran towards main gate, he caught
me from behind as a result, I fell down
near a handpump, which was installed at
the house. Thereafter, my husband brought
out the pipe of petrol tank of the
motorcycle, which was lying in the Chowk,
as a result of which fire erupted near the
motorcycle, and Jagbir also caught fire
and when I raised hue and cry to save, the
one boy namely Dinesh Jain, who resides in
the neighbourhood, came inside by jumping
the main gate and broke the lock placed
inside the main gate with the help of
‘Hathi’ of the handpump. Then all the
neighbourers saved me and Jagbir while
burning. As my husband had extended
threat to me, I could not give my
statement on the same very day. My

44
husband has tried to kill me by pouring
kerosene oil upon me because of the reason
that he has illicit relations with his
‘Bhabhi’ namely Babita. You have recorded
my statement in presence of my mother
Chhoto Devi and my ‘Jija’ Vinod, which I
have been read over and is correct.”

PHYSICAL AND MENTAL CONDITION OF DECEASED

35. We have noticed the contents of the MLC concerning

the deceased. Her condition was characterised as

critical. She had suffered deep burns. The injuries

were understood as dangerous. The patient, no doubt,

died only on 02.02.2008, i.e., on the ninth day after

admission on 24.01.2008.

36. As far as the dying declaration made on 27.01.2008

is concerned, particularly, when Doctors were near at

hand, the Investigating Officer ought to have taken the

caution of obtaining a certificate after the Doctor put

questions to the patient for ascertaining her

condition. It is equally true that a declaration does

not appear to be preceded by questions put by the

Investigating Officer to the deceased from which he

45
could ascertain details from which he could have

received verification about her condition.

37. The first question, one must bear in mind, is

whether the deceased was in a physical and mental

condition to make a dying declaration. It is not in

dispute that in the dying declaration dated 27.01.2008,

there is no certificate by the Doctor certifying that

the patient was conscious or that the patient was

mentally or physically fit to give the declaration. The

patient was, in fact, admittedly lying in the hospital.

Even in the narrative of the dying declaration, there

are no questions seen put by PW29 to ascertain her

condition. Undoubtedly, it is true that the certificate

by a Doctor about the patient being conscious and fit

to give a dying declaration would go a long way in

inspiring confidence of the court. However, the

Constitution Bench in SectionLaxman v. State of Maharashtra11,

has held as follows:

“……Where it is proved by the
testimony of the Magistrate that the

11 (2002) 6 SCC 710

46

declarant was fit to make the statement
even without examination by the doctor the
declaration can be acted upon provided the
court ultimately holds the same to be
voluntary and truthful. A certification
by the doctor is essentially a rule of
caution and therefore the voluntary and
truthful nature of the declaration can be
established otherwise.”
(Emphasis supplied)

38. We can proceed on the basis that even absence of

the certificate by a Doctor is not fatal to act upon a

dying declaration. However, the requirement remains

that the person who records the dying declaration must

ensure that the patient was in a fit condition, both

mentally and physically, to give the declaration.

39. Turning to the facts of this case, the following

features are most important:

A. The patient was brought to the hospital on

24.01.2008 at about 09.30 P.M. where MLC was

recorded. The MLC specifically records that the

patient was conscious, oriented, follows verbal

command and able to speak. This material

undoubtedly would show that as on 24.01.2008 at

47
09.30 P.M., the patient was fully conscious and

oriented. In fact, the statement, which is made by

her/deceased, is sought to be made use of by the

appellant himself as a dying declaration. If that

is so, it would be illogical to not proceed on the

basis that the patient was capable of making a

dying declaration. Deceased also made a statement

at 01.30 P.M. on 25.01.2008 which

is the next day. Again, it was relied upon by the

appellant himself. This means that the appellant is

also proceeding on the basis that on 25.01.2008,

the deceased was in a condition to make the

statement.

B. It is on 27.01.2008 that the controversial

dying declaration is made implicating the

appellant. It is recorded by a Police Officer. We

have set out the entirety of the dying declaration.

We have to undoubtedly proceed on the basis that

the Police Officer was performing his official

functions. There is no acceptable material to show

48
that he was interested in implicating the appellant

or that he was showing any undue favour to PW1 or

PW7. Even though, it may be true that he may not

have put questions to ascertain her condition, the

declaration, which is seen made, in our view,

sufficiently assures us of the physical and mental

condition of the deceased to make the declaration.

In this regard, we may notice that there is no case

for the appellant that after 24.01.2008 and

25.01.2008, the condition of the deceased took a

turn for the worse. It is further important to

notice that the death took place only on the sixth

day after making the declaration on 27.01.2008.

Therefore, we are of the considered opinion that

the deceased was in a position to make the

declaration.

WHETHER DECLARATION BETRAYS IMAGINATION LET LOOSE?

40. However, question which would arise is whether the

declaration was vitiated, it being tutored, prompted

and result of her imagination running wild. Taking the

49
last point first, namely, that the dying declaration

must not be the figment of the imagination of the

deceased, nothing is established by the appellant to

show that the facts which have been stated in regard to

the physical places and things spoken of by the

deceased in regard to the rooms, etc., do not match

with the reality on the ground. In fact, there is no

material before us to hold that the dying declaration

is a creation of her imagination.

WHETHER STATEMENTS MADE ON 24.01.2008 AND 25.01.2008
ARE DYING DECLARATION?

41. We are not much impressed by the contention of the

State that the statements made at the hospital on

24.01.2008 and to the Police Officer on 25.01.2008, are

not dying declarations. Under Section 32 of the

Evidence Act any statement made by a person as to the

cause of his death or to any circumstance of the

transaction which resulted in his death would be

relevant. Once it is proved that such statement is

made by the deceased then it cannot be brushed aside on

50
the basis that it is not elaborate or that it was not

recorded in a particular fashion. We have already

noted that the principle that the statement is brief,

would not detract from it being reliable. Equally,

when there are divergent dying declarations it is not

the law that the court must invariably prefer the

statement which is incriminatory and must reject the

statement which does not implicate the accused. The

real point is to ascertain which contains the truth.

FURTHER ANALYSIS

42. On 24.01.2008, the appellant and the deceased

suffered burn injuries. A call was made to the Police

Control Room. PW22-Police Constable deposed about

taking the appellant and the deceased to the hospital.

Investigation Officer-PW29 has spoken about immediately

coming to the site of the incident. He states he made

inquiries. He stayed there for about two hours. It is

not in the region of dispute that the deceased and the

51
appellant, who had suffered the injuries, were in the

hospital, viz., the Safdarjung Hospital. PW13-ASI, has

deposed about responding to the call received,

inspecting the spot on 24.01.2008. Photographs were got

taken. PW14-the Police Photographer has been examined.

He speaks about going to the site on 24.01.2008 at

about 09.00 P.M.. He took nine photographs. Two of the

photographs were washed out. He has produced the

negatives. He speaks about photographs of plastic can

as also the matchstick. On the MLC of the deceased, the

time of arrival is shows as 09.30 P.M.. It is further

noted that the patient was not giving proper history.

Thereafter, it is stated, alleging a case of accidental

fire when husband was trying to ignite matchstick for

smoking probably due to nearby bike leaking petrol

tank. It is stated, as told by patient self. Patient

got burn injury with her husband. It was further

stated, patient unable to tell the cause of kerosene

smell from her body. She was brought to the casualty by

the PCR Van. She had deep burns present over her face,

52
neck, anterior trunk, lower part, both upper limbs,

portions of both lower limbs. It is further stated that

patient is very critical. However, it is written,

patient is conscious, oriented, follows verbal command,

able to speak. It is also stated, kerosene smell

present in body of the patient. The nature of the

injuries was classified as ‘dangerous’. The Doctor is

Dr. K.K. Sharma. It is thereafter that on the next day

on 25.01.2008 at 01.30 P.M., a statement was given to

the Investigating Officer by the deceased which we have

already extracted. It is thereafter that the dying

declaration dated 27.01.2008 (extracted above) came to

be recorded.

43. It is found by two courts to be witnessed by PW1-

the co-brother of the appellant and PW7-the mother-in-

law of the appellant. PW29 is the Police Officer who

has recorded the statement. He has also deposed that on

receiving a call, which is no doubt, a call made by

PW1, he had come to the hospital and recorded the

statement.

53

44. Let us look at the circumstances emerging from the

facts. There can be only two possible causes for fire

which finally resulted in the death of the deceased. It

is either accidental or homicidal. If it is found to be

accidental, certainly, it would rule out homicide. The

converse is also true.

LANGUAGE IN WHICH DYING DECLARATOIN RECORDED

45. The dying declaration dated 27.01.2008 is seen

recorded in Hindi. There is no case that the deceased

was not familiar with Hindi and we can safely conclude

that the dying declaration was recorded in a language

with which the deceased was familiar. There can be no

doubt in regard to the same.

THE DYING DECLARATION IS A DETAILED NARRATIVE

46. The dying declaration dated 27.01.2008 is a fairly

lengthy narration. It contains details about what

happened on the fateful day, viz., 24.01.2008 in a

fairly graphic manner including details regarding the

54
place where it happened, the manner in which it

happened, the specific role played by the appellant,

even things (presence of the motorcycle), the door

being locked, are reflected. Even reference was made to

the relationship which the appellant was having with

his sister-in-law.

THE SMELL OF KEROSENE

47. There is evidence on record, both in the form of

oral testimony and documentary evidence, to suggest

that there was kerosene kept in the premises. The can

is found, the photograph of the can is taken. It is

also sent for forensic examination.

48. There is reference to the smell of kerosene

available in evidence. The very first document

available, viz., the MLC is dated 24.01.2008. In the

same, it is clearly stated that there is smell of

kerosene from the body of the deceased. In the second

statement recorded by the Investigating Officer on the

very next day, i.e., on 25.01.2008, it is stated that

55
the patient was unable to tell the cause of kerosene

oil smell from her body. This is in regard to the

statement by the appellant which has also come to be

recorded. As far as further evidence indicating

presence of kerosene oil is concerned, there is

evidence of PW1 who speaks about being told about

pouring of kerosene oil by the appellant over the

deceased. PW7-mother-in-law of the appellant states

that her daughter told her while in the hospital that

kerosene oil was kept behind in a small container meant

for storing grains. The appellant poured kerosene oil

over her. He also sprinkled some kerosene oil on

himself also. She, no doubt, states that she had stated

before the Police that she had no ration card, that

they never used to purchase kerosene oil or never used

to keep kerosene oil and the kerosene oil must have

been purchased from outside. She was, no doubt,

confronted about such omission in the statement. PW8

conducted the post-mortem. She does not, undoubtedly,

note the smell of kerosene. But here we cannot ignore

56
the submission of the counsel for the State that post-

mortem was conducted on 03.02.2008, almost ten days

after the incident.

49. PW-29 is the Investigating Officer. He deposes that

the can of kerosene oil was lying and kerosene was

lying spread on all the sides of the can. He has spoken

about seizing the burnt matchstick and matchbox. He

reiterates that in the report, he has mentioned about

the smell of kerosene oil emanating from the clothes

seized by him.

50. PW30 is the Doctor who identified the handwriting

of Dr. K. K. Sharma who took down the statement of the

deceased inter alia on 24.01.2008. He says that on

24.01.2008, Dr. K. K. Sharma also

examined the deceased with alleged history of

sustaining thermal burns when patient’s husband was

trying to ignite matchstick for smoking and

accidentally fire erupted, probably due to nearby bike

leaving petrol tank, as told by the patient by herself.

57
He also says that patient got burnt along with her

husband and was unable to tell the cause of kerosene

smell present on her body. More significantly, it is

stated, Dr. K.K. Sharma also appended a note that

patient is not giving proper history. In the cross-

examination, a suggestion was made that since spirit

was used in the hospital, the Doctor may have been

under misapprehension that kerosene oil was present on

the body. This suggestion was denied as incorrect by

PW30 and he went on to say that even the smell of

spirit and kerosene is different. It may be noticed

that the suggestion is not that the Doctor was confused

between the smell of kerosene and petrol. Though, PW30

goes on to state that kerosene oil is the product of

petroleum. PW30 also denied as incorrect a foul smell

was wrongly treated as kerosene smell.

51. PW31 is the Senior Scientific Assistant

(Chemistry), C.F.S.L.. He has stated that on chemical

and gas chromatographic examination, Exhibits 1A, 1B,

2A, 2B, 2C, 2D and 2F and Exhibit 3 were found to

58
contain residue of kerosene oil. Residue of kerosene

oil, diesel and petrol could not be detected in Exhibit

4 and Exhibit 5. He further states as follows “only in

case, in a mixture of petrol and kerosene, if the

quantity of kerosene is more, it will emanate smell of

kerosene. The residue can remain even for about one

year or so unless the article is placed in Sun and is

not properly preserved”.

52. Exhibit 1A, which is found containing the residue

of kerosene oil, is brown colour shirt. Exhibit 1B is

the blue colour jeans. Exhibit 2A, which is found to

contain kerosene oil, is a printed scarf with black

border. Exhibit 2B is the glittering printed shawl

partially burnt. Exhibit 2C which again is found to

contain residue of kerosene oil is mustard colour

cardigan pieces which were partially burnt. Exhibit 2D

is the yellow colour cloth piece stated to be kurta in

semi-burnt condition. Exhibit 2F is a green colour

partially burnt cloth stated to be the bra. It also

contains residue of kerosene oil. Exhibit 4 consists of

59
two burnt matchsticks which did not contain kerosene

oil, diesel or petrol. This is not inconsistent with

the case of kerosene being used in the manner canvassed

by the prosecution. Exhibit 5 contains scissors of iron

and copper metal. Overwhelming evidence relating to the

presence of kerosene starting with the can, kerosene

being found by PW29 on the spot near the can on his

inspection on the same day, the presence of kerosene

residue on the clothing belonging both to the deceased

and the appellant, as found by the Scientific Expert,

would clearly establish that kerosene was used in

causing the fire. This completely fortifies the

prosecution. It equally clearly rules out the case

ought to be set up by the appellant that it was a case

of accidental fire which was brought about when the

appellant was lighting his biri and a leak from the

motorbike causing the fire. As deposed by the

Scientific Expert, the possibility of kerosene smell

would be there only if kerosene content is more in the

petrol. Secondly, we must also remember that the leak

60
would not have been of such an extent as to lead to the

incident of this nature.

OTHER CIRCUMSTANCES

53. As against this, we may also examine what

circumstances can be culled out in favour of the

appellant. In the first two statements, which have been

made by the deceased to the Police, the blame is placed

at the doorstep of an unfortunate accident, which the

appellant while trying to light his biri and the leak

from the motorcycle, caused. This version is repeated

in the statement to the Police on 25.01.2008 also. PW1

states, and it is not disputed by the counsel for the

State, that the deceased had put her footmark in the

dying declaration dated 27.01.2008. PW29, however,

speaks about the thumb impression. This is apparently a

lapse of memory of the Officer.

54. Coming to tutoring and prompting, there is no doubt

that it is on PW1-the co-brother of the appellant

61
informing the Police Officer, the Police Officer-PW29

came on 27.01.2008 and took down the declaration. It is

true that the presence of PW1 and PW7, at the time of

making the dying declaration, cannot be doubted. Their

proximity with the deceased, before PW29 came to take

the declaration, can be easily assumed.

55. It is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, if the

Police Officer recording the statement was to call

somebody else as witness, when the mother and the other

relatives are near at hand, it can be challenged on the

ground that it is unnatural. On the other hand, if such

close relatives are made witnesses and it turns out

later on that a case is set up that they had an

interest in the declaration being made in a particular

manner, again, the prosecution would be in trouble. In

this case, however, the nature of the case set up by

the appellant to bring the dying declaration under a

cloud, on account of the interest shown by PW1, is the

conspiracy theory mainly to prevent the appellant from

succeeding to the property. We have already dealt with

62
the same and found that the said version is totally

unacceptable. If that be so, in the facts of this case,

we cannot read much into the presence of PW1 playing a

role he did, namely, calling the Police Officer and

being a witness in the dying declaration. PWs 1 and 7

were witnesses to the dying declaration. They have

spoken about the dying declaration and about it being

recorded by PW29.

56. The question then arises about the fact of the

previous statements which have been attributed to the

deceased contained in the MLC dated 24.01.2005 and in

the statement of the deceased recorded on 25.01.2008.

The view taken by the courts is that the deceased and

the appellant were admitted in the same hospital, the

presence of the appellant would have come in the way of

the deceased speaking of the truth.

57. We are of the view that the courts below were not

in error in disregarding the statement attributed to

the deceased in the MLC dated 24.01.2008 and the

63
statement taken on the next day, i.e., on 25.01.2008.

The incident, admittedly, took place towards in the

evening of 24.01.2008. The appellant and the deceased

were taken by the Police in the PCR vehicle to the

hospital. It is the proximity of the appellant, which

apparently stood in the way of the deceased, disclosing

the truth of the matter. The appellant and the deceased

continued to be in the same hospital on 25.01.2008

also. In this regard, in the dying declaration, relied

upon by the prosecution, the deceased has stated that

as the appellant had extended threat to her, she could

not give a statement on the very same day. Apparently,

this means that she has proceeded on the basis that the

declaration made on 27.01.2008 is the first dying

declaration which she is making. She has, in other

words, not treated the statement made on 24.01.2008 at

the time when she was admitted, as a declaration. So

also, the statement made on 25.01.2008, she was

operating under the threat extended by her husband.

64

58. Further, the motive of the appellant to kill her,

has been stated by her to be that he had illicit

relations with his Bhabhi (sister-in-law). She has also

spoken about differences which she had with her husband

and the settlement which had taken place in the

Panchayat. PW7-mother of the deceased has also spoken

about the affair, which appellant had with his sister-

in-law. Thus, the motive attributed to the appellant by

the deceased, is not the figment of her imagination.

She is very coherent and clear in this regard.

59. In dying declaration dated 27.01.2008, she speaks

of one boy, viz., Dinesh Jain, a neighbour coming

inside by jumping the main gate and breaking the lock

placed inside the main gate with the help of hathi

(handle) of the handpump. Dinesh Jain has been examined

as PW24. He states that on 24.07.2008, at about 08.00

P.M., he heard the sound of loud cries. He saw the

appellant and the deceased both engulfed in fire. He

tried to push the gate of the house of PW7 but it could

65
not be opened. He climbed the wall. He found that the

gate was locked from inside. After reaching inside the

house, he found the handpump in the house. He pulled

down the handle, and with it, broke open the lock. By

the time he came out of the house, certain persons had

gathered there. In the cross-examination, he says that

Police did not record his statement either on the date

of the incident nor on any other date. A motorcycle was

lying seen near the handpump. He was unable to tell the

number of rooms in the house. It is for the first time

that he is going there. He did not try to extinguish

the fire. The handle of the handpump could be removed

easily as there was no nut and only a nail was there.

It is difficult to find that the deceased could have

given the detail about PW24 doing what he did only on

the basis of any tutoring or prompting by PW1 or PW7.

Thus, this portion of the statement stands fortified by

the corroborative evidence of PW24.

66

60. Let us also examine the content of the actual case

of the defence as is sought to be established through

the statement in the MLC dated 24.01.2008 and the

statement on 25.01.2008. The case set up in the MLC is

that deceased suffered burns when the appellant tried

to ignite a matchstick for smoking and the fire erupted

due to petrol leaking from the tank of the motorcycle.

As already noted, there is no smell of petrol. However,

what is to be noted is the presence of kerosene. In

fact, in the very statement, which is ascribed to the

deceased on 24.01.2008, it is recorded that the

deceased was unable to explain the cause of kerosene

smell from her body. This, apparently, shows that the

deceased was hoping that she would survive, and if she

explained the cause of the smell of the kerosene,

necessarily implicating the appellant, the chance of

her married life surviving would come to an end. As

already noted, there is a note of Dr. K. K. Sharma that

the patient was not giving proper history. There is

also the aspect of the threat explained. Whether it is

67
her desire or the threat, both prevented the disclosure

of the truth. In the statement of 25.01.2008, it is

stated that the deceased deposed that she resides with

the appellant and mother. Earlier, there had been some

problem between the appellant and the deceased. She was

since last one year living with the appellant happily.

There is no such quarrel between them. Mother had gone

on 24.01.2008 for matrimonial home of Rakesh, younger

sister, at Rohtak. Appellant came back in the evening.

They had dinner and were preparing to go for sleep. She

locked the gate while the appellant was smoking biri

near the motorcycle. All of a sudden, the motorcycle

caught fire. Appellant was trying to extinguish the

fire and his clothes also caught fire. Both of them

screamed. Neighbours saved both of them. No one had

done this intentionally. The above case is founded on a

premise which eliminates the possibility of kerosene.

We have, however, noted that there is overwhelming

evidence that the fire was caused by the use of

kerosene. In the statement, there is no reference to

68
the appellant being drunk. Everything was normal till

the accidental fire erupted upon the motorcycle

catching fire. Deceased states that the appellant was

trying to extinguish the fire and his clothes also

caught fire. The deceased, however, does not state that

she went to extinguish the fire and thereby sustained

the burn injuries. In other words, the statement on

25.01.2008 does not contain any reason as to how the

deceased caught fire. There was no statement that she

suffered the extensive (65 per cent) burn injuries when

she tried to put out the fire. Secondly, the version

involves the motorcycle catching fire. There are

photographs of the motorcycle. It is only the part of

the seat of the motorcycle which was burnt. In this

regard, it is apposite to notice that PW14-Police

Photographer has deposed about reaching the spot on

24.01.2008 at 09.00 P.M. and taking the photographs,

inter alia, of the motorcycle. Statement of 25.01.2008

does not appear to indicate the cause of the burn

injuries suffered by the deceased, for the reasons

69
stated above. This version also is incompatible with

the presence of the kerosene can which is proved by the

evidence of PW29-Investigating Officer, PW-14-

photographer and the photograph. The statements made on

24.01.2008 and 25.01.2008 will not explain the cause of

smell of kerosene emanating from the body, both of the

deceased and from the appellant, as also the clothes

smelling of kerosene. PW30 apparently spoke about the

clothes smelling (MLC recorded by Dr. K.K. Sharma).

That the appellant was unable to tell the cause of

kerosene smell from his body. It is found that kerosene

smell was present in the body of the patient.

61. It must be remembered that in the statement on

27.01.2008, the deceased had spoken about the appellant

coming drunk. He poured kerosene over the deceased. He

also poured some kerosene on himself. The cause of fire

was by lighting matchstick after pouring the kerosene.

The deceased runs and trips over the handpump. The

presence of the handpump is corroborated by the

70
evidence of PW24-neighbour. No doubt, the action of the

appellant in pulling out the petrol pipe is also

referred to by the deceased in the dying declaration

dated 27.01.2008. The fire erupting near the motorcycle

is, thus, explained in the declaration dated

27.01.2008. It is here that the role of alcohol in the

whole incident, which must be borne in mind.

62. In the declaration dated 27.01.2008, it is true

that the deceased states that the appellant poured less

kerosene oil upon himself. It must be, at once,

remembered that deceased had stated that the appellant

had come on the said day in the drunken position. The

appellant’s act in bringing out the pipe of the petrol

tank of the motorcycle resulting in fire erupting and

him also catching fire, does establish that fire did

erupt near the motorcycle. What the deceased has stated

is compatible with the motorcycle itself not being

burnt as such which is in accord with the evidence.

71

63. As to why the appellant would bring out the pipe of

the petrol tank, is one question which may require

consideration. The Trial Court holds that it was in

order to show it to be an accident, that he brought out

the petrol pipe and took the defence that because of

the leaking pipe, the fire engulfed and both of them

caught fire, which defence was found absolutely

improbable. The High Court, in the impugned order, on

the other hand, would state that the appellant suffered

40 per cent injuries on his face, neck and both upper

limbs, was found compatible with the dying declaration

dated 27.01.2008 wherein the deceased has explained

that when she tried to flee, the appellant caught her

trying to prevent her from running out. It is how the

burn injuries occurred on his face and upper trunk and

upper limbs. It is true, a question may arise that if

this version is accepted and the appellant caught fire

from catching the deceased from behind, why would he

pull out the petrol pipe when both of his upper limbs

(hands) had caught fire. In the dying declaration, the

72
deceased has stated that the appellant caught fire when

the fire erupted near the motorcycle as a result of the

pipe of the petrol tank being taken out by the

appellant. It is to be remembered that the case of the

appellant is that the fire occurred when he had lit a

biri. He had no case that the pipe of the petrol tank

had been taken out thereby causing the fire. But PW29-

Investigating Officer, visited the site on 24.01.2008,

has deposed that the petrol pipe of the motorcycle had

been detached from the place where it should be. As

already noticed, he has also stated that in the inner

room, a can of kerosene oil was lying and the kerosene

was lying spread on all the four sides of the can. We

have no reason to disbelieve PW29 when he speaks about

kerosene oil lying in the inner room and the can also.

The version, as projected in the declaration dated

27.01.2008, is clinchingly proved by this circumstance

that kerosene was indeed the fuel used which caused the

burn injuries and its position in the inner room is

73
entire compatible with the dying declaration dated

27.01.2008.

64. In the above facts and circumstances, we see no

ground to interfere. The appeal will stand dismissed.

Since, appellant has been released on bail, his bail

bonds shall stand cancelled and he shall be taken into

custody.

………………J.

(SANJAY KISHAN KAUL)

………………J.

(K.M. JOSEPH)
New Delhi,
September 4, 2019.

74

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2021 SC and HC Judgments Online at MyNation
×

Free Legal Help, Just WhatsApp Away

MyNation HELP line

We are Not Lawyers, but No Lawyer will give you Advice like We do

Please read Group Rules – CLICK HERE, If You agree then Please Register CLICK HERE and after registration  JOIN WELCOME GROUP HERE

We handle Women Centric biased laws like False Sectioin 498A IPC, Domestic Violence(DV ACT), Divorce, Maintenance, Alimony, Child Custody, HMA 24, 125 CrPc, 307, 312, 313, 323, 354, 376, 377, 406, 420, 497, 506, 509; TEP, RTI and many more…

MyNation FoundationMyNation FoundationMyNation Foundation