Child witness having intellectual capacity to understand questions can be allowed to testify: SC
The court said that it criminal proceedings, a person of any age is competent to give evidence if he or she is able to understand questions put as a witness and give answers that can be understood.
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has said that a child witness of a tender age could be allowed to testify in a criminal case if he or she has the intellectual capacity to understand the questions and give rational answers.
"The competency of a child witness can be ascertained by questioning her/him to find out the capability to understand the occurrence witnessed and to speak the truth before the court," said a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee.
The bench noted that a child witness becomes incompetent only in case the court considers that he or she was unable to understand the questions and answer them in a "coherent and comprehensible manner".
Further, it said in order to determine the competency of a child witness, the judge has to form her or his opinion.
"The judge is at the liberty to test the capacity of a child witness and no precise rule can be laid down regarding the degree of intelligence and knowledge which will render the child a competent witness," the bench said.
It said that it criminal proceedings, a person of any age is competent to give evidence if he or she is able to understand questions put as a witness and give answers that can be understood.
"If the child understands the questions put to her/him and gives rational answers to those questions, it can be taken that she/he is a competent witness to be examined," it said.
The apex court was hearing an appeal in a murder case in which two prosecution witnesses were minor.