Staff Reporter

The trial court had in 1996 sentenced him to life imprisonment

The convict’s bail, surety cancelled

Ordered to surrender before the Court

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has upheld the conviction of a man by a lower court here holding him guilty of setting his wife on fire after she had refused to have sex with him.

The trial court had in 1996 sentenced Mohan to life imprisonment on the basis of his wife’s dying declaration.

According to the declaration recorded by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Mohan’s wife Veena had said that he had come from office and wanted to have sex with her but she declined as she was on fast. At this he got angry and poured kerosene on her and set her on fire.

The prosecution’s case was based solely on the dying declaration.

Dismissing the appeal against the lower court judgment by Mohan, a Division Bench of the High Court comprising Justice S. K. Kaul and Justice Ajit Bharihoke said: “A dying declaration is sacrosanct as it is the last words on the lips of the deceased before he/she makes peace with the maker. The dying declaration is, thus, given greater sanctity even though the opportunity of cross-examination is not available to the suspect.”

Quoting a Supreme Court judgment which says that “it is also not in doubt that the dying declaration made by a person on the verge of death has a special sanctity as the person is most unlikely to make any untrue statements in the shadow of impending death”, the High Court Bench said: “This is the reason why a dying declaration is given special weightage as per Section 32 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, as truth sits on the lips of a dying man. Simultaneously, it cannot be lost sight of that in case of a dying declaration the accused does not have an opportunity to cross-examine the witness. The dying declaration can be the sole basis of conviction if it inspires full confidence of the court and the rule of corroboration is merely a rule of prudence as observed in the Muthu Kutty and another versus State by the apex court.”

“In the facts of the case,” the Bench added, “the doctor had not certified the condition of the declarant but the testimony of the doctor who was present when the dying declaration was recorded came to the assistance of the prosecution.”

“In the present case the doctor has stepped into the witness box to affirm the certificate given by him of the proper medical condition of the deceased to give the statement which has been recorded by the SDM. There is no reason to disbelieve this dying declaration,” the Bench observed. The tragic incident had taken place at Shahdara in Delhi in 1990. The convict was on bail while his appeal was before the High Court. Delivering the judgment, the High Court cancelled his bail and surety and ordered him to surrender before the Court forthwith.