Definition of dying declaration:
A statement by a person who is conscious and knows that death is imminent concerning what he or she believes to be the cause or circumstances of death that can be introduced into evidence during a trial in certain cases.
Statements made by a person who is lying at the point of death, and is conscious of his approaching dissolution, in reference to the manner in which he received the injuries of which he is dying, or other immediate cause of his death, and in reference to the person who inflicted such injuries or the connection with such injuries of a person who is charged or suspected of having committed them; which statements are admissible in evidence in a trial for homicide where the killing of the declarant is the crime charged to the defendant.
Admissibility of dying Declaration as Evidence:
Dying declaration is admitted by the court on the basis of a principle that,Nemo moriturus praesumitur mentiri — "no-one on the point of death should be presumed to be lying."
The conditions in which a dying declaration will be admissible
Although, the dying declaration can be considered as admissible evidence, there are certain conditions that must be met before the declaration can be tendered in court.
Owen J, in R v Golightly had to deal with the question of the admissibility of a dying declaration, and his Honour set out the following obligations that need to be met for a dying declaration to be considered as evidence in a trial:
• the person must be dead
• the trial must be for the person’s murder or manslaughter
• the statement must relate to the cause of death
• the person must be considered as a competent witness
• the declaration must be made “under a settled hopelessness of death”.
The heart of allowing the dying declaration to be admissible, really boils down to the questions of the competence of the witness before the death, and the surrounding facts of the case in order for the courts to make their decision.