"I realise that some of my criticisms may be mistaken; but to refuse to criticize judgements for fear of being mistaken is to abandon criticism altogether... If any of my criticisms are found to be correct, the cause is served; and if any are found to be incorrect the very process of finding out my mistakes must lead to the discovery of the right reasons, or better reasons than I have been able to give, and the cause is served just as well."

-Mr. HM Seervai, Preface to the 1st ed., Constitutional Law of India.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Recent Judgments

Principles of appreciation of dying declaration
Varikuppal Srinivas v. State of A.P. CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 168 OF 2009. Date of Judgment 28-01-09
This case reiterates the principles used while appreciating a dying declaration.
"(i)There is neither rule of law nor of prudence that dying declaration cannot be acted upon without corroboration. [Munnu Raja & Anr. v. The State of Madhya Pradesh (1976) 2 SCR 764)]
(ii) If the Court is satisfied that the dying declaration is true and voluntary it can base conviction on it, without corroboration. [State of Uttar Pradesh v. Ram Sagar Yadav and Ors. (AIR 1985 SC 416) and Ramavati Devi v. State of Bihar (AIR 1983 SC 164)]
(iii) The Court has to scrutinize the dying declaration carefully and must ensure that the declaration is not the result of tutoring, prompting or imagination. The deceased had an opportunity to observe and identify the assailants and was in a fit state to make the declaration. [K. Ramachandra Reddy and Anr. v. The Public Prosecutor (AIR 1976 SC 1994)]
(iv) Where the dying declaration is suspicious, it should not be acted upon without corroborative evidence. [Rasheed Beg v. State of Madhya Pradesh (1974 (4) SCC 264)]
(v) Where the deceased was unconscious and could never make any dying declaration, the evidence with regard to it is to be rejected. [Kaka Singh v State of M.P. (AIR 1982 SC 1021)]
(vi) A dying declaration which suffers from infirmity cannot form the basis of conviction. [Ram Manorath and Ors. v. State of U.P. (1981 (2) SCC 654)
(vii) Merely because a dying declaration does contain the details as to the occurrence, it is not to be rejected. [State of Maharashtra v. Krishnamurthi Laxmipati Naidu (AIR 1981 SC 617)]
(viii) Equally, merely because it is a brief statement, it is not to be discarded. On the contrary, the shortness of the statement itself guarantees truth. [Surajdeo Oza and Ors. v. State of Bihar (AIR 1979 SC 1505).
(ix) Normally the Court in order to satisfy whether the deceased was in a fit mental condition to make the dying declaration looks up to the medical opinion. But where the eye-witness said that the deceased was in a fit and conscious state to make the dying declaration, the medical opinion
cannot prevail. [Nanahau Ram and Anr. v. State of Madhya Pradesh (AIR 1988 SC 912)].
(x) Where the prosecution version differs from the version as given in the dying declaration, the said declaration cannot be acted upon. [State of U.P. v. Madan Mohan and Ors. (AIR 1989 SC 1519)].
(xi) Where there is more than one statement in the nature of dying declaration, one first in point of time must be preferred. Of course, if the plurality of dying declarations could be held to be trustworthy and reliable, it has to be accepted. [Mohanlal Gangaram Gehani v.State of Maharashtra (AIR 1982 SC 839) and Mohan Lal and Ors. v. State of Haryana (2007 (9) SCC 151)."
Had it been not dismissed on technical grounds, it could have been a landmark decision and a lead to the singur farmers claiming their land back
Yunus (Baboobhai) A Hamid Padvekar v. State of Maharashtra. CIVIL APPEAL NO. 486 OF 2009. Date of Judgment 28-01-09
The present appeal is against the dismissal order of the HC of a writ petition on the reason of delay.
The issue agitated in the writ petition is of phenomenal importance and especially for the Singur farmers. The question is, now that TATA is backed out what will happen to the land. Will the farmers get it back?
In 1972, 38 acres of land of the appellant were acquired by the state for BALCO. The company failed to set up the unit and the license was cancelled. The claim of the petitioner in the writ was for reversion of the property to him.
Regrettably there has been a delay which the HC found inordinate and dismissed the peitition. The appeal is dismissed endorsing the finding of the HC.
Wish it was decided on merits!

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