This is a statement, verbal or written, made by a person since deceased narrating the cause of this condition or the circumstances leading to his impending death. If time permits, the attending doctor should arrange for a magistrate to record the dying declaration of a person who is likely to die as a result of criminal violence.
Points to be followed by Doctor while recording Dying Declaration
If the patient’s condition is so grave (in bride bumming cases, injury to vital organs, criminal abortion) that death or unconsciousness may supervene before the arrival of a magistrate, the doctor should record the statement himself bearing in mind the following points;
- The doctor has to issue two certificates (1) initially, he has to certify that the patient is in a sound mental condition (compos mentis) to make the declaration, and (2) when the declaration is concluded, he should certify that it was made while the declarant was compos mentis, it was read over to him, and that he accepted it as having been correctly recorded.
- The declaration may be made orally but the person receiving it should commit it to writing at that time.
- It should be recorded in the vernacular of the declarant in the presence of two disinterested witnesses. The questions put to him and his answers to them must be written down in full details and in identical words.
- Nothing should be suggested to the victim nor should any attempt be made to elicit information by leading questions.
- In case of extreme weakness or cut throat injuries where the victim is unable to speak but able to make signs in answer to questions, these should be recorded in the form of question and signs.
- The declaration, when concluded, should be read over to the victim who should affix his signature or left thumb impression to it, it would also be signed by the doctor recording it as well as by the witnesses. If the statement is written by the patient himself, it would be signed by him, the doctor, and the witnesses.
- If the declarant dies or becomes unconscious whilst the declaration is being recorded, the doctor should record as much information as he has obtained and sign it himself.
- The declaration should then be forwarded in a sealed cover to the appropriate magistrate.
- The investigating police officer should not be allowed to remain present while the dying declaration is being recorded.
Evidentiary value of Dying Declaration
The dying declaration forms important evidence in criminal trial in the event of the victim’s death. If the victim survives, it ceases to have any legal value. The declarant must then come to the court to give oral evidence and be crossed examined for it. The declaration may still be relied upon to corroborate the statement of the complainant at the time of oral examination.