Failure to record dying declaration in the same language

A dying declaration made in Bagri language which was recorded by the Magistrate in Hindi was considered by the Honourable Supreme Court in State of Rajasthan vs. Bhup Singh (1997 (10) SCC 675). Failure to record the dying declaration in the same language and not in question and answer form were considered therein.

# Language of the Court

It was held,

Assuming that the deceased gave her statement in her own language, the dying declaration would not vitiate merely because it was recorded in a different language. We bear in mind that it is not unusual that courts record evidence in the language of the court even when witnesses depose in their own language.

Judicial officers are used to the practice of translating the statements from the language of the parties to the language of the court. Such translation process would not upset either the admissibility of the statement or its reliability, there are other reasons to doubt the truth of it.

Nor would a dying declaration go bad merely because the magistrate did not record it in the form of questions and answers. It is axiomatic that what matters is the substance and not the form. Questions put to the dying man would have been formal and hence the answers given are material.

Criminal courts may evince interest in knowing the contents of what the dying person said and the questions put to him are not very important normally. That part of the statement which relates to the circumstances of the transaction which resulted in his death gets the sanction of admissibility. Here it is improper to throw such statement overboard on a pedantic premix that it was not recorded in the form of questions and answers.

# (Vide Ganpat Mahadeo Mane v. State of Maharashtra (1993 Supp (2) SCC 242)).

The Kerala High Court in Biju @ Joseph Vs. State of Kerala held that dying declaration was recorded not in the language spoken to by the deceased is not fatal. There is no law or rule that a dying declaration is to be recorded only by a Magistrate. Dying declaration recorded by doctors or any person with credibility in society can be accepted as valid evidence after analysing its evidentiary value as per law.