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Delhi HC upholds man’s conviction for the dowry death of his wife based on her dying declaration

The question that arose during the appeal was whether the statement given by the sister of the deceased is conclusive enough to be relied upon, since there were discrepancies in statement given during the investigation and before the court.

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The Delhi High Court has recently affirmed that in case of a dying declaration, the statement of the deceased/victim on the aspect of the manner and cause of her death inspires the confidence due to its voluntariness, truthfulness and correctness.

A divisional bench of Delhi High Court presided by Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh upheld the conviction of the accused husband under Section 302 Indian Penal Code. The bench observed, “The dying declaration of a person, by itself, may be sufficient to find the accused guilty and if the statement is reliable and credible, it does not even need corroboration,” based on the Supreme Court case Khushal Rao v. State of Bombay.

The facts of the case are such that the deceased and her elder sister were married to the accused and his elder brother. Ever since they got married, it was alleged that there was demand for dowry from the in-laws of the deceased. It was also alleged that the accused along with his mother and his father and his younger brother used to beat the elder brother and the two daughter-in-laws. As per the FIR, it is stated that on the night of the incident, the accused dragged the deceased to the roof of the house and poured kerosene on her and lit it with a match stick.

The sister of the deceased was the eyewitness who stated that the accused had a fight with the deceased and when the accused was dragging the deceased, the sister along with in-laws followed them to the roof. However, when the deceased was burning, the in-laws caught hold of deceased’s elder sister and she was unable to save her and later left the roof. She also stated that the accused was set on fire by her husband, the accused. 

The question that arose during the appeal was whether the statement given by the sister of the deceased is conclusive enough to be relied upon, since there were discrepancies in statement given during the investigation and before the court. Another aspect was veracity of the last statement by the deceased given directly to the Tehsildar who dictated it to the ASI and then handed it over to the Investigating Officer when he reached the hospital.

The bench observed that though the statement given by the sister of the accused had several inconsistencies regarding the role of parents of accused and his younger brother with respect to the demand of dowry but there is no inconsistency inasmuch, the role of accused/ husband of deceased is concerned. It was further observed that the presence of deceased’s sister was nowhere denied by any of the witnesses. The bench categorically observed that the inconsistency in the statement given by the deceased’s sister who was present at the time of incident does not impinge on her statement pertaining to the accused. The bench further observed that deceased’s sister’s testimony corroborates the Dying Declaration of the deceased. 

The bench also observed, “It is well known that there is tendency in such like cases to rope in not only the concerned accused but other family members out of vengeance, and that explains the role attributed by PW-3(deceased’s sister) to Jitender @ Tinku (accused’s younger brother), as well as to the accused Rohtash (father of accused) and Santosh (mother of accused).”

The bench, with respect to the procedure adopted by the Tehsildar, observed that, though the IO was not present during the time of statement of the deceased, the Tehsildar along with ASI recorded the statement of the accused which was affirmed by the hospital staff and the same was handed over to the IO there and then upon his arrival. 

The bench thereafter keeping in view the evidences, witnesses and forensics report upheld the order of conviction of the accused under Section 302 IPC. 

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