The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
SC nod to child witnesses

New Delhi, Oct. 30 (PTI): The Supreme Court has held that the evidence of a child witness could not be rejected if he has intellectual capacity to give rational answers on oath.

“A child of tender age can be allowed to testify if he has intellectual capacity to understand questions and give rational answers thereto,” a bench of Justices Doraiswamy Raju and Arijit Passayat said while disallowing an appeal of a murder accused challenging his conviction on the evidence of a 10-year girl from Gujarat.

Holding that the evidence act did not prescribe any age as a factor to determine if a witness is competent and that all persons could testify, the court said the decision to record the evidence of a child witness depends on the trial court.

“The decision on question whether the child witness has sufficient intelligence primarily rests with the trial judge who notices his manners, his apparent possession or lack of intelligence, and (the) said judge may resort to any examination which will tend to disclose his capacity and intelligence as well as his understanding of the obligation of oath,” it said.

“This precaution was necessary because child witnesses are amenable to tutoring and often live in a world of make beliefs.”

Email This Page