Dying Declarations and Conviction: Supreme Court Judgment

dying declarations

In a riveting case that drew considerable attention, the Supreme Court delved into the intricacies of dying declarations and their reliability as evidence in criminal proceedings. At the heart of this legal examination was an incident of deadly assault within a faction-ridden community in Nagpur, leading to the tragic demise of Baboolal. Accused of his murder were Kushal and Tukaram, among others, with the prosecution heavily relying on the dying declarations made by Baboolal. The Supreme Court’s judgment underscored the significance of scrutinizing such declarations closely due to the absence of cross-examination by the accused. However, the Court also affirmed that if a dying declaration is deemed truthful regarding the circumstances of the death and the identification of the assailants, it could indeed form the sole basis for conviction without necessitating further corroboration.


Location and Conflict: The incident took place in the Mill area of Nagpur, involving two rival factions. Kushal and Tukaram led one faction, while Ramgopal, Inayatullah, and Tantu led the other.

Victim’s Association: Baboolal, the victim, had friendly relations with the opposing faction, leading to animosity with Kushal.

Assault Details: Baboolal was attacked by Kushal, Sampat, Mahadeo, and Tukaram with swords and spears, resulting in severe injuries.

Medical and Legal Proceedings: Upon being hospitalized, Baboolal made a dying declaration identifying Kushal and Tukaram as his assailants. This led to the police registering an offense under Section 307 of the IPC.

Dying Declarations: Multiple dying declarations were recorded by a doctor, a Sub-Inspector, and a first-class Magistrate, confirming Baboolal’s statement against Kushal and Tukaram.

Court Proceedings: Kushal was sentenced to death, and Tukaram received a life sentence by the trial court, which was partially upheld by the High Court, leading to an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Verdict: The Supreme Court focused on the reliability and consistency of the dying declarations made by Baboolal, which solely implicated Kushal and Tukaram. Despite the absence of corroboration, the Court found the declarations sufficient for conviction, emphasizing the significance of dying declarations in legal proceedings.

Legal Framework: The case underscored the importance of Section 32 (1) of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, and Section 26 (a) of Bharatiya Sakshya Adhiniyam, 2023, regarding the admissibility and weight of dying declarations in court.

Issues Involved

The pivotal issue at the heart of this judicial scrutiny revolves around the legitimacy and sufficiency of dying declarations as standalone evidence for convicting an accused. The crux of the debate lies in whether the judiciary can place unequivocal trust in the words of a dying person, absent corroborative testimony, to meet justice. This question challenges traditional evidentiary requirements and probes the reliability of such declarations, considering the absence of cross-examination opportunities for the accused.

The case unfolds in a milieu where the veracity of a dying declaration becomes the linchpin for conviction, thus raising profound questions about the balance between evidentiary sanctity and the pursuit of truth in the justice system. Engaging with this issue not only enriches the jurisprudential landscape but also tests the robustness of legal principles in adapting to complex human and evidential dynamics.


The Supreme Court’s handling of the case in question sheds a significant light on the paramount importance of dying declarations within the Indian judicial system. The observations made were critical in understanding the nuanced approach required when dealing with such sensitive evidence. The Court’s detailed examination reveals a clear message: the veracity and reliability of a dying declaration are paramount, and each case demands a unique consideration of its circumstances. This meticulous approach highlights the intricate balance the judiciary must maintain between the rights of the accused and the pursuit of justice for the victim. 

For judiciary aspirants, this case serves as a potent reminder of the gravity and complexity of legal proceedings. The emphasis on the conditions under which dying declarations are made, including the mental and physical state of the declarant and the absence of influence or tutoring, underscores the critical need for a judicious evaluation of evidence.

Furthermore, the distinction made by the Supreme Court between dying declarations recorded by competent authorities and those reliant on oral testimonies invites future legal practitioners to reflect on the importance of methodical evidence collection and its impact on the justice delivery system. 

This case, therefore, not only enriches the legal understanding of dying declarations but also offers a broader lesson on the responsibilities that come with legal practice. It calls upon aspiring judges and lawyers to approach their future roles with a deep sense of duty, an unwavering commitment to justice, and an understanding of the human elements involved in each case. In doing so, it provides food for thought on how the legal system and society at large can be improved, emphasizing the role of the judiciary in upholding the principles of fairness and justice in the face of complex legal challenges.


In the intricate tapestry of legal jurisprudence, the case at hand intricately weaves the doctrine of dying declarations into the broader narrative of criminal justice, serving as a pivotal reminder of the weight and significance such testimonies carry within our legal system.

For judiciary aspirants, this case highlights not only the nuanced understanding required to navigate the legal landscape but also the profound responsibility that rests on the shoulders of those who interpret, uphold, and administer justice. The Supreme Court’s meticulous examination and eventual reliance on the dying declarations as a substantial piece of evidence without necessitating corroboration underscore a critical lesson: the essence of justice lies not in rigidly adhering to precedents or principles but in adapting to the unique circumstances of each case to unearth the truth. 

As future custodians of the law, judiciary aspirants must imbibe the essence of this judgment – the balance between law and equity, evidence and intuition, procedure and justice. This case, therefore, is not merely a study of legal principles but a beacon guiding aspirants toward a deeper, more empathetic understanding of the law and its ultimate purpose: the delivery of justice. Let this case be a reminder of the gravity of our legal system’s reliance on truth, the importance of scrutinizing evidence, and the unyielding quest for justice, serving as an inspiration for all aspiring to don the judicial robes.