Supreme Court Scrutinizes Dying Declaration in Death Penalty Appeal

Case Title: Irfan v. State of U.P., 2023 SCC OnLine SC 1060

Decided On: 23-08-2023


Welcome to the official blog of the Law Offices of Kr. Vivek Tanwar Advocate and Associates, where we are dedicated to providing litigation support services for matters related to Dying Declarations. In today’s blog post, we aim to shed light on the prevailing issues surrounding Dying Declarations, the legal framework in place for their protection, and the steps we can take as a society to combat these acts. Join us as we explore this critical subject and empower you with the knowledge to protect your rights and safety.

In a recent case presented before the Supreme Court, a convict filed an appeal challenging the judgment of the Allahabad High Court, which affirmed the conviction and death sentence imposed by the Sessions judge. The full bench of BR Gavai, JB Pardiwala, and Prashant Kumar Mishra, JJ. it overturned the conviction, emphasizing the need for a dying declaration to be wholly reliable and instill confidence.

Background of the Case

The convict, having been married twice, was accused of setting fire to his son and two brothers from his first marriage. The prosecution argued that the deceased persons opposed the convict’s second marriage, leading to the alleged crime. The convict received the death penalty for Section 302 IPC, life imprisonment for Section 436 IPC, and Section 326-A IPC, along with fines.

Legal Issue: Proof Beyond Reasonable Doubt

The central legal question revolved around whether the prosecution had established its case against the convict beyond reasonable doubt.

Court’s Analysis

The Court examined two dying declarations, questioning why the second brother’s statement was not recorded. It highlighted discrepancies, such as the deceased persons’ statements not mentioning the presence of witnesses during the fire. The oral evidence of witnesses contradicted the dying declarations, raising doubts about the truthfulness of the statements.

Referring to Laxman v. State of Maharashtra (2002) 6 SCC 710, the Court reiterated the caution exercised in accepting dying declarations, emphasizing that these declarations should inspire full confidence. The manner in which the dying declarations were recorded raised doubts about their trustworthiness, despite being video-graphed.

The Court questioned the convict’s alleged presence at the scene during the fire, considering it unnatural for the accused to remain inside or outside the burning room after igniting the fire. While acknowledging the presumption of truth in dying declarations, the Court emphasized the need for corroborative evidence when suspicion arises.

Factors Considered by the Court

The Court listed factors affecting the weight of a dying declaration, including the declarant’s expectation of death, promptness of the declaration, presence of suspicion, the possibility of prompting, proper recording, an opportunity to observe the incident, consistency, voluntariness, and the overall reliability of the statement.


In conclusion, the Court deemed it unsafe to rely solely on the dying declarations without corroborative evidence, especially when suspicions were raised. Emphasizing the importance of thoroughly weighing evidence in each case, the Court acquitted the convict, stating that the prosecution failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt. This case sets a precedent for the cautious assessment of dying declarations in criminal proceedings.

We are a law firm in the name and style of Law Offices of Kr. Vivek Tanwar Advocate and Associates at Gurugram and Rewari. We are providing litigation support services for matters related to the  Indian Evidence Act 1872.

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