A bench of justices BS Chauhan and Dipak Misra quashed the order of the Madhya Pradesh High Court which had acquitted the trio on the ground that the dying declaration cannot be relied upon as she suffered 100 percent burns and was not in a fit condition to make a statement.
"The requirement of a certificate provided by a doctor in respect of such state of the deceased is not essential in every case. Undoubtedly, the subject of the evidentiary value and acceptability of a dying declaration must be approached with caution for the reason that the maker of such a statement cannot be subjected to cross-examination.
"However, the court may not look for corroboration of a dying declaration unless the declaration suffers from any infirmity," the bench said.
The bench said there is no prescribed form for recording dying declaration and it should not be brushed aside by courts just because of minor contradiction in the statements made by the deceased.
"The law on the issue can be summarised to the effect that law does not provide who can record a dying declaration nor is there any prescribed form, format or procedure for the same.
The person who records a dying declaration must be satisfied that the maker is in a fit state of mind and is capable of making such a statement," the bench said.
The apex court made it clear that the mental state of the victim should not be gauged on the basis of extent of burn injury and the person suffering from even 100 burnt injury can be in a fit state to make a dying declaration.
The apex court said the High Court had rejected the dying declaration on flimsy ground and upheld the trial court's order which found them guilty and sentenced them to life imprisonment.
"Upon proper appreciation of the evidence on record, the trial court had found the dying declaration to be entirely believable and worth placing reliance upon but the High Court on a rather flimsy ground, without appreciating material facts, has taken a contrary view," the bench said.