IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
Criminal Appeal No. 1288 OF 2008
Hiraman ... Appellant
State of Maharashtra ... Respondent
J U D G E M E N T
H.L. Gokhale J.
This Criminal Appeal raises the question
about the relevance of dying declarations, and the approach to be adopted by the Courts with respect thereto.
The appellant’s wife, Chandrakala Hiraman Murkute, died an
unnatural and a very painful death at about 2 a.m. on 7.4.2000 in a village
in Jamkhed Taluka of District Ahmednagar, State of Maharashtra, having
suffered 91% burn injuries in the previous night leading to cardio-
The First Adhoc Addl. Sessions Judge, Ahmednagar held
the appellant responsible for the same, principally on the basis of her
dying declarations, and convicted him for cruelty and murder under Sections
498-A and 302 of the Indian Penal Code (I.P.C. for short) by his judgment
and order dated 16.8.2004 in Sessions Case No.103 of 2000.
U/s 302 of IPC was confirmed by the Aurangabad Bench of the High Court of
Judicature at Bombay in Criminal Appeal No.31 of 2005, though the one under
Section 498-A of I.P.C was set-aside for the lack of sufficient evidence.
Courts below have accepted the two dying declarations of deceased
Chandrakala as giving the correct cause for the burn injuries viz. that
they were caused by the appellant.
They have rejected the defence of the
appellant that he was nowhere near the deceased at the time of the incident
and that he was not responsible for the same.
In view of this conviction
under Section 302 I.P.C., the appellant is required to undergo imprisonment
for life, and to pay a fine of Rs.500/-, in default suffer a rigorous
imprisonment for three months. This judgment of the High Court dated
28.6.2005 in Crl. Appeal No. 31/2005 is being challenged for being rendered
solely on the basis of dying declarations.
The facts leading to the present appeal are as follows:-
2. Deceased Chandrakala had been married to the appellant since a
long time, and had three children from the marriage viz., Bapu, aged about
20-22 years and married at the time of the incident, Ramesh aged about 14
years, and daughter Shobha (whose age has not been mentioned).
As per the
charge-sheet, the appellant is stated to have poured kerosene on
Chandrakala and set her on fire at about 8 p.m. on 6.4.2000.
admitted in the rural hospital, Jamkhed immediately at 9:15 p.m.
Eknath Mundhe (PW-5) was on duty at that time, and he recorded the history
of injuries (exhibit 33) at about the same time in the following words –
“H/o Homicidal burns by husband as she was not willing to
perform his marriage with her sister and he was also demanding
gold on 6.4.2000 at about 8 p.m.”
Thus as per this writing, the appellant was insisting that Chandrakala
bring gold from her parents, and that he be permitted to marry her sister.
Chandrakala refused to acquiesce to either of these demands, and,
therefore, she was given serious burn injuries by the appellant on that
According to their younger son Ramesh (DW-1) the deceased
was taken to the hospital by her family members.
That being so, this
recording by the doctor assumes significance since it must have been made
in their presence.
After Head Constable Dagadu Baba Kharat (PW-4) came for
duty to that hospital, the above duty doctor informed him about the
incident, and also that Chandrakala was still in a position to make a
PW-4 recorded the second statement of Chandrakala (exhibit 28)
in the presence of PW-5 and the staff nurse after PW-5 certified that she
was in a position to give a statement. Chandrakala stated that the
appellant poured kerosene on her from a ten liter drum, and then set her on
fire since she declined to accept his demand of a golden ring of one tola,
and transfer of the land belonging to her maternal uncle to him.
to this statement one neighbour Baba Saheb Vitekar had extinguished the
fire, and then she was brought to the hospital. Thereafter, her thumb
impression was obtained on the statement after reading it to her.
second dying declaration was treated as the First Information Report
(F.I.R.) and was registered at 10:10 p.m. as Crime No. 44/2000 under
Section 307 I.P.C. for attempt to murder.
Chandrakala was very much in a
position to make a statement at that time, and was not under the influence of any drug since she was injected with sedatives only at about 10:30 p.m.
At the time of recording of this statement her two sons as well as the
appellant were present since, as stated by Ramesh (DW-I), all the family
members had taken her to the hospital.
The Appellant has also stated in his
statement under Section 313 of Cr.P.C that he too had gone to the hospital.
Mother and brother of Chandrakala were however not present at that time as
they could reach the hospital only after she had passed away.
death the charge was altered from the one under Section 307 to the one
under Section 302 I.P.C.
3. During the trial, the prosecution examined five witnesses. PW-
1 Dr. Abhijit Boralkar who performed the post-mortem gave the cause of
death as follows:-
“Death due to cardio-respiratory failure (due) to shock due to
extensive burns 91% superficial to deep.”
Thus, there is no dispute over the cause of death.
The question is as to
how she received the burn injuries.
The mother (PW-2) and brother (PW-3)
of Chandrakala supported her version as to why, she suffered the burn
injuries viz., that appellant was insisting that she fetch a golden ring,
and also to transfer her maternal uncle’s land to him for last about two
months, and that her refusal has led to this gruesome act by him.
defence of the appellant in this behalf was, however, inconsistent.
statement under Section 313 of Cr.PC he indicated the probability of
accidental death due to bursting of the stove.
The investigating officer
P.I. Kandre, however categorically stated that during examination of the
place of occurrence no furnace, stove or cooking articles were found over
The appellant examined three witnesses in his defence.
younger son Ramesh (DW-1) stated on the other hand that his mother had
The cause for committing the suicide as stated by
Ramesh was however very flimsy viz., that he had asked his mother to give
him Rs.2 for watching a movie, which she had declined. This had led the
appellant to scold her, because of which she went inside the house and
bolted the door.
Later on when Ramesh was playing outside the house, and
when his elder brother and father were also outside the house, his sister
Shobha who was playing at the neighbour’s house raised the alarm that
Chandrakala had set herself on fire.
According to Ramesh the appellant
climbed on the roof, removed one of the tin sheets and jumped inside, to
remove the bolt of the door when it was found that the deceased was lying
on the floor in a burnt condition.
A close relative of the appellant viz.,
Mhase Nagu Vitkar (DW-2) was examined who also gave similar evidence. As
far as the statement of Ramesh (DW-1) is concerned, the same was discarded
for the reason that it was a hearsay based on the statement allegedly made
by Shobha to him and Shobha was not examined.
Besides, the house of the
neighbour where Shobha was supposed to have been playing, was at a distance
of about 150 feet from the house of deceased, and there were many houses in
between the two houses.
Therefore, her statement of coming to know that
Chandrakala had set herself on fire could not be accepted, since Shobha
would not have been able to know the same from such a distance.
the statement of Ramesh that his father had jumped into the house after
removing the tin sheet of the roof could not be accepted for the reason
that though he is claimed to have suffered an injury in the process, at the
time of his arrest in the night of 6.4.2000, the appellant declined to go
to any hospital (as the arrest panchnama records) when asked whether he
suffered from any pain or injury.
This leads to the discarding of the
statement of Dr. Satpute (DW-3) also, who is said to have examined the
accused two days subsequent to the incident, on 8.4.2000, and noticed
abrasions on his left elbow and arm, and a burn injury on left elbow. The
statement of DW-2 was also not accepted for the reasons that he was a
person of 70 years of age who accepted that he could not see beyond 15-20
feet. He would not have come to know of the incident when his house is
situated at a distance of 150 feet from the place of occurrence.
Consideration of the submissions on facts:
4. The question before us is as to how Chadrakala received the
There are two versions before us viz., that the appellant
poured the kerosene on her, and the other that the deceased poured it on
The version given by the deceased is contained in her statements
recorded at the earliest opportunity by two different persons who had no
reason to record what they have recorded, unless she had stated so. And
considering the solemn occasion when she was making the statements, there
was no reason to discard the same as being untrue.
The first statement was
recorded at 9:15 p.m., i.e. just one hour and fifteen minutes after the
incident when she was brought to the hospital.
The second statement was
also recorded within an hour thereafter at about 10:10 p.m. Chandrakala was
fully conscious at that time and was required to be given sedatives only at
about 10:30 p.m.
This statement assumes significance since it was recorded
when her family members including the appellant were present.
Besides, her brother and mother have subsequently confirmed her statement that her
husband was greedy and used to harass her for his demands.
There was no
occasion of their tutoring her since they reached the hospital only after
It was submitted on behalf of the appellant that the failure of
the prosecution to examine Baba Saheb Vitekar (who extinguished the fire)
In this connection, we must note that this Baba Saheb was not
present when kerosene was poured on Chandrakala and the fire started.
came lateron to extinguish the fire and could not have thrown any light as
to how the incident took place.
5. The learned Counsel for the appellant principally submitted
that as far as the two dying declarations of Chandrakala are concerned,
there was no corroboration to the same, and the uncorroborated dying
declarations could not be accepted.
It was contended that there is a
variation between the two dying declarations with respect to the reasons
for setting her on fire.
Now as far as this variation between the two
statements is concerned, it is only this much that in her first statement
Chandrakala had stated that the appellant used to harass and ill-treat her
because he was demanding gold from her, and was asking her to marry her
sister to him for which she was not agreeable. In the second dying
declaration she had once again stated that he was demanding gold from her,
but had also added that he had sought the transfer of the land belonging to
her maternal uncle to him. This time she has not stated about his
insisting to marry her sister. The demand for gold is the common factor
in both the statements. In the first statement she has additionally
referred to his insisting on marrying her sister, whereas in the second one
she has referred to his demand for the agricultural land of her maternal
uncle. The Sessions Court and the High Court have not given any importance
to this variation, and in our view rightly so. This is because one must
understand that Chandrakala had suffered 91% burn injuries. Earlier, the
duty-doctor had asked her as to how the incident had occurred, and later on
the Head Constable on duty had repeated the query. Any person in such a
condition will state only that much which he or she can remember on such an
occasion. When asked once again, the person concerned can not be expected
to repeat the entire statement in a parrot-like fashion. One thing is very
clear in both the statements viz., the greed of the appellant and her being
harassed on that count.
Besides, it is relevant to note that her mother
and brother have both corroborated her statement that the appellant was
demanding gold and land from her. Initially Chandrakala spoke about this
demand for gold and later also for the land. This cannot in any way mean
an attempt to improve. Similarly, the non-mention on the second occasion
of his insistence to marry her sister cannot mean an omission to discredit
6. As against that, as far as the version put up by the appellant is
concerned, it is based on the hearsay version of his daughter Shobha who
was supposed to be playing at a house at a distance of 150 feet from
appellant’s house. She has not been examined and her version as reproduced
by Ramesh is pressed into service, and an attempt is thus made to put up a
probable parallel story though the story is highly improbable bordering on
falsehood. It is not placed on record that Chandrakala was suffering from
any psychological disorder either. The Courts below rightly rejected this
parallel version as there is no foundation to the same. This is as against
the one which is propounded by the prosecution, which in the circumstances
is the only acceptable version. Initially, the appellant took the defence
on 19.8.2002 that Chandrakala perhaps died due to an accident. This can be
seen from his answer to Question No.20 in the course of statement U/s 313
of Cr.PC, where he stated as follows:-
“I had done nothing. Electricity was off. I was not present at
the house. She might be doing cooking at stove. Whether there
was outburst of stove is not known to me. My son had told me
that his mother had been injured and then I went at the
hospital. Thereafter, Police caught me and took me to jail.
Thereafter, I was there inside. I had nothing to say more.”
Thus at that stage he did not state that he jumped into the house to rescue
his wife. Besides, he stated that he did not want to lead any defence
witness. Nearly, two years later he examined defence witnesses on
15.7.2004 to raise the plea of suicide, which was clearly an afterthought.
It is very clear that Ramesh (DW-1) was put up to save the appellant from
the accusation. It is also relevant to note that the appellant was
absconding for a period of over 20 months during the trial from 26.6.2002
to 14.4.20014, and it was much later that he surrendered himself. There
was no reason for him to abscond if he had not indulged in the act of
pouring kerosene on his wife.
Submissions on Law
7. The learned Counsel for the appellant relied upon the judgment
of a bench of two judges of this Court in P. Mani Vs. State of Tamil Nadu
reported in [2006 (3) SCC 161] to canvass that uncorroborated dying
declaration must not be accepted. In this connection, it must be firstly
noted that in that case the son and daughter of the deceased lady (who had
died due to burn injuries) had categorically stated that she was suffering
from depression and she had made an attempt to commit suicide a week prior
to the date of the incident. Besides, there was no material to show that
the appellant was absconding or he could not be arrested despite attempts
having been made therefor. Even in that matter the Court specifically
observed as follows:-
“14. Indisputably conviction can be recorded on the basis
of the dying declaration alone but therefore the same must be
Thus it must be noted that this decision was rendered in the facts of that
case where the dying declaration was not found to be wholly reliable. The
judgment does not in any way deviate from the well settled proposition that
a dying declaration can be the sole basis for conviction.
8. A ground has been raised in this appeal by pointing out the
defect with respect to the statement recorded by the doctor that there is
absence of time of recording it, but the time can be ascertained from the
marginal endorsement made thereon. A further ground has been raised in
this appeal that the second statement of the deceased recorded by Head
Constable Kharat (PW-4) can also not be treated as a dying declaration and
cannot be read as an evidence since it was neither recorded by the gazetted
officer i.e. Chief Judicial Magistrate nor in question-answer form. The
appellant has relied upon observation of this Court in sub-para (5) of para
16 of the judgement of a bench of three judges in Khushal Rao Vs. State of
Bombay reported in [AIR 1958 SC 22] in this behalf. The submission is
misconceived for the reason that the proposition in sub-para (5) of para 16
cannot be cut off from the other propositions in this para which lay down
the other parameters governing the approach towards the relevance of the
dying declarations. When we look to those parameters, there is no reason
not to accept that the dying declarations of Chandrakala gave the real
cause of her burn injuries. Chandrakala having suffered 91% burn injuries,
there was hardly any time to secure the presence of competent magistrate or
to record her statement in a detailed question-answer form. Absence of
these factors itself will not take away the evidentiary value of the
recorded statement. The parameters from this paragraph are as follows:-
“16. On a review of the relevant provisions of the Evidence Act
and of the decided cases in the different High Courts in India and in
this Court, we have come to the conclusion, in agreement with the
opinion of the Full Bench of the Madras High Court, aforesaid, (1)
that it cannot be laid down as an absolute rule of law that a dying
declaration cannot form the sole basis of conviction unless it is
corroborated; (2) that each case must be determined on its own facts
keeping in view the circumstances in which the dying declaration was
made; (3) that it cannot be laid down as a general proposition that a
dying declaration is a weaker kind of evidence than other pieces of
evidence; (4) that a dying declaration stands on the same footing as
another piece of evidence and has to be judged in the light of
surrounding circumstances and with reference to the principles
governing the weighing of evidence; (5) that a dying declaration which
has been recorded by a competent magistrate in the proper manner, that
is to say, in the form of questions and answers, and, as far as
practicable, in the words of the maker of the declaration, stands on a
much higher footing than a dying declaration which depends upon oral
testimony which may suffer from all the infirmities of human memory
and human character, and (6) that in order to test the reliability of
a dying declaration, the Court has to keep in view, the circumstances
like the opportunity of the dying man for observation, for example,
whether there was sufficient light if the crime was committed at
night; whether the capacity of the man to remember the facts stated,
had not been impaired at the time he was making the statement, by
circumstances beyond his control; that the statement has been
consistent throughout if he had several opportunities of making a
dying declaration apart from the official record of it; and that the
statement had been made at the earliest opportunity and was not the
result of tutoring by interested parties.”
9. In this behalf we may as well profitably refer to paragraph 11
of this very judgment with respect to the rationale in accepting the
version contained in the dying declaration. This Court (per B.P. Sinha, J.
as he then was) observed in this para 11 as follows:-
“11. The legislature in its wisdom has enacted in Section 32(1)
of the Evidence Act that “When the statement is made by a person as to
the cause of his death, or as to any of the circumstances of the
transaction which resulted in his death, in cases in which the cause
of that person's death comes into question”, such a statement written
or verbal made by a person who is dead (omitting the unnecessary
words) is itself a relevant fact. This provision has been made by the
legislature, advisedly, as a matter of sheer necessity by way of an
exception to the general rule that hearsay is no evidence and that
evidence which has not been tested by cross-examination, is not
admissible. The purpose of cross-examination is to test the veracity
of the statements made by a witness. In the view of the legislature,
that test is supplied by the solemn occasion when it was made, namely,
at a time when the person making the statement was in danger of losing
his life. At such a serious and solemn moment, that person is not
expected to tell lies; and secondly, the test of cross-examination
would not be available. In such a case, the necessity of oath also has
been dispensed with for the same reasons. Thus, a statement made by a
dying person as to the cause of death, has been accorded by the
legislature, a special sanctity which should, on first principles, be
respected unless there are clear circumstances brought out in the
evidence to show that the person making the statement was not in
expectation of death, not that that circumstance would affect the
admissibility of the statement, but only its weight. It may also be
shown by evidence that a dying declaration is not reliable because it
was not made at the earliest opportunity, and, thus, there was a
reasonable ground to believe its having been put into the mouth of the
dying man, when his power of resistance against telling a falsehood,
was ebbing away; or because the statement has not been properly
recorded, for example, the statement had been recorded as a result of
prompting by some interested parties or was in answer to leading
questions put by the recording officer, or, by the person purporting
to reproduce that statement. These may be some of the circumstances
which can be said to detract from the value of a dying declaration.
But in our opinion, there is no absolute rule of law, or even a rule
of prudence which has ripened into a rule of law, that a dying
declaration unless corroborated by other independent evidence, is not
fit to be acted upon, and made the basis of a conviction.”
10. The judgment in Khushal Rao has been consistently referred to
and followed. Thus, after referring to the propositions in Khushal Rao,
this Court observed in para 7 of Mannu Raja Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh
reported in [1976 (3) SCC 104] to the following effect:-
“7. It was contended by the learned Counsel for the appellants
that the oral statement which Bahadur Singh made cannot, in the eye of
law, constitute a dying declaration because he did not give a full
account of the incident or of the transaction which resulted in his
death. There is no substance in this contention because in order that
the Court may be in a position to assess the evidentiary value of a
dying declaration, what is necessary is that the whole of the
statement made by the deceased must be laid before the Court, without
tampering with its terms or its tenor. Law does not require that the
maker of the dying declaration must cover the whole incident or
narrate the case history. Indeed, quite often, all that the victim may
be able to say is that he was beaten by a certain person or persons.
That may either be due to the suddenness of the attack or the
conditions of visibility or because the victim is not in a physical
condition to recapitulate the entire incident or to narrate it at
length. In fact, many a time, dying declarations which are copiously
worded or neatly structured excite suspicion for the reason that they
bear traces of tutoring.”
11. Khushal Rao and Mannu Raja have been referred to and followed
in Gulam Hussain Vs. State of Delhi reported in [2000 (7) SCC 254]. In
para 8 thereof, this Court observed as follows:-
“8. Section 32 of the Evidence Act is an exception to the
general rule of exclusion of hearsay evidence and the statement made
by a person, written or verbal, of relevant facts after his death is
admissible in evidence if it refers to the cause of his death or any
circumstances of the transactions which resulted in his death. To
attract the provisions of Section 32, the prosecution is required to
prove that the statement was made by a person who is dead or who
cannot be found or whose attendance cannot be procured without any
amount of delay or expense or he is incapable of giving evidence and
that such statement had been made under any of the circumstances
specified in sub-sections (1) to (8) of Section 32 of the Evidence
12. In a case almost identical to the present one, in Kanaksingh
Raisingh Vs. State of Gujarat reported in [AIR 2003 SC 691], this Court
upheld the conviction in the case of pouring kerosene and setting the wife
on fire by holding that so long as the dying declaration is voluntary and
truthful, there was no reason why it should not be accepted. In Babu Lal
Vs. State of State of Madhya Pradesh reported in [AIR 2004 SC 846], this
Court had following to say with respect to dying declaration in para 7
which is as follows:-
“7………..A person who is facing imminent death, with even a shadow
of continuing in this world practically non-existent, every motive of
falsehood is obliterated. The mind gets altered by most powerful
ethical reasons to speak only the truth. Great solemnity and sanctity
is attached to the words of a dying person because a person on the
verge of death is not likely to tell lies or to concoct a case so as
to implicate an innocent person. The maxim is “a man will not meet his
maker with a lie in his mouth” (Nemo moriturus praesumitur mentire).
Mathew Arnold said, “truth sits on the lips of a dying man”. The
general principle on which the species of evidence is 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 mind induced by the most powerful
consideration to speak the truth; situation so solemn that law
considers the same as creating an obligation equal to that which is
imposed by a positive oath administered in a court of justice (See
R.V. Woodcock 1 Leach 500).”
13. The appellant had sought to create a doubt about the
prosecution case. In this behalf we must note that a doubt sought to be
raised has to be a credible and consistent one and must be one which will
appeal to a reasonable mind. We may profitably refer to what this Court
has said in this behalf in some of the leading judgments. Thus, in Shivaji
Sahebrao Bobade Vs. State of Maharashtra reported in [AIR 1973 SC 2622]
Krishna Iyer, J. observed for a bench of three judges in paragraph 6 as
“6.……..The dangers of exaggerated devotion to the rule of
benefit of doubt at the expense of social defence and to the soothing
sentiment that all acquittals are always good regardless of justice to
the victim and the community, demand especial emphasis in the
contemporary context of escalating crime and escape. The judicial
instrument has a public accountability. The cherished principles or
golden thread of proof beyond reasonable doubt which runs through the
web of our law should not be stretched morbidly to embrace every
hunch, hesitancy and degree of doubt......”
“………The evil of acquitting a guilty person light-heartedly as a
learned author Glanville Williams in ‘Proof of Guilt’ has sapiently
observed, goes much beyond the simple fact that just one guilty person
has gone unpunished. If unmerited acquittals become general, they tend
to lead to a cynical disregard of the law, and this in turn leads to a
public demand for harsher legal presumptions against indicated
‘persons’ and more severe punishment of those who are found guilty.
Thus too frequent acquittals of the guilty may lead to a ferocious
penal law, eventually eroding the judicial protection of the
“………a miscarriage of justice may arise from the acquittal of the
guilty no less than from the conviction of the innocent……..”
14. The propositions in Shivaji Sahebrao Bobade were quoted with
approval in State of U.P. Vs. Krishna Gopal reported in [AIR 1988 SC 2154],
and further this Court observed as follows in paragraph 13 (per
M.N. Venkatachaliah, J. as he then was):-
“13.…….. Doubts would be called reasonable if they are free from
a zest for abstract speculation. Law cannot afford any favourite other
than truth. To constitute reasonable doubt, it must be free from an
over emotional response. Doubts must be actual and substantial doubts
as to the guilt of the accused person arising from the evidence, or
from the lack of it, as opposed to mere vague apprehensions. A
reasonable doubt is not an imaginary, trivial or a merely possible
doubt; but a fair doubt based upon reason and common-sense. It must
grow out of the evidence in the case……..”
15. In Gurbachan Singh Vs. Satpal Singh reported in [AIR 1990 SC
209], this Court observed at the end of para 4 as follows:-
“4.……There is a higher standard of proof in criminal cases than
in civil cases, but there is no absolute standard in either of the
cases. See the observations of Lord Denning in Bater v. Bater, (1950)
2 All ER 458 at p.459, but the doubt must be of a reasonable man. The
standard adopted must be the standard adopted by a prudent man which,
of course, may vary from case to case, circumstances to circumstances.
Exaggerated devotion to the rule of benefit of doubt must not nurture
fanciful doubts or lingering suspicions and thereby destroy social
defence. Justice cannot be made sterile on the plea that it is better
to let hundred guilty escape than punish an innocent. Letting guilty
escape is not doing justice, according to law.”
16. These propositions have been consistently followed by this
Court in Gangadhar Behera Vs. State of Orissa reported in [AIR 2002 SC
3633], Sucha Singh Vs. State of Punjab reported in [2003 (7) SCC 643] and
Lakhan Vs. State of Madhya Pradesh reported in [2010 (8) SCC 514].
Hence, the Conclusion:
17. Thus as can be seen, by enacting Section 32 (1) in the Evidence
Act, the legislature has accorded a special sanctity to the statement made
by a dying person as to the cause of his own death. This is by virtue of
the solemn occasion when the statement is made. Besides, when the
statement is made at the earliest opportunity without any influence being
brought on the dying person, there is absolutely no reason to take any
other view for the cause of his or her death. The statement has to be
accepted as the relevant and truthful one, revealing the circumstances
which resulted into his death. Absence of any corroboration can not take
away its relevance. Exaggerated doubts, on account of absence of
corroboration, will only lead to unmerited acquittals, causing grave harm
to the cause of justice and ultimately to the social fabric. With the
incidents of wives being set on fire, very unfortunately continuing to
occur in our society, it is expected from the Courts that they approach
such situations very carefully, giving due respect to the dying
declarations, and not being swayed by fanciful doubts.
18. In the present case there are two dying declarations recorded
at the earliest opportunity. They contained the motive for the crime, and
the reasons as to why the deceased suffered the burn injuries viz., the
greed of the appellant to which the deceased had refused to succumb. As
far as her statements viz., that the appellant had poured kerosene and set
her on fire is concerned, there is no reason to discard it considering the
fact that it was made at the earliest opportunity and on a solemn occasion.
The defence put up a story which is totally inconsistent with the facts
which have come on record, and is a clear afterthought and therefore
unacceptable. In fact this case clearly shows an attempt to put up a
totally false defence. The prosecution has undoubtedly proved its case
beyond any reasonable doubt.
19. In view of the above legal position and facts on record, we see
no reason to interfere in the judgment and order rendered by the learned
Sessions Judge as modified and confirmed by the High Court.
20. The appeal is, therefore, dismissed.
( A.K. Patnaik )
( H.L. Gokhale )
Dated: January 31, 2013