New Delhi: The mere presence of relatives of victim at the time of recording a dying declaration would not make the statement invalid, the Supreme Court has said while upholding the life imprisonment for a man and his mother for killing his wife for dowry.
A bench of justices P Sathasivam and MY Eqbal said the mere presence of some of the close relatives at the time of making the statement would not affect the contents of the declaration and it can be relied on against the accused.
Dying declaration is normally recorded by a magistrate and relatives are not allowed to be present there as they might influence the victim in giving her statement.
The court upheld the conviction and life imprisonment of a man and his mother for the killing of his wife by putting her on fire. The bench relied on the dying declaration of the victim who had said that her husband mother-in-law had set her on fire.
It rejected the contention of the accused that the dying declaration should not be relied on as it was recorded by the magistrate in the presence of her relatives in a hospital ward.
"The claim that there was wrong description of names in the dying declaration and some of the relatives were present at the time of recording of dying declaration are not material contradictions which would affect the prosecution case," the bench said while upholding the lower court and high court order for their conviction, the bench said.
"It is also clear from her evidence that before recording the statement of the deceased, she specifically directed the police officials and relatives to leave the ward so that the patient was not under any influence while making the statement before her.
"Though, in the evidence, it has come on record that a few of the relatives were standing in the ward, in view of the assertion of the magistrate who recorded her statement, the mere presence of some of the close relatives would not affect the contents of the declaration," it said.