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.

Published: 25th July 2019 10:30 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th July 2019 10:30 PM   |  A+A-

Supreme Court

Supreme Court (File Photo | PTI)

By PTI

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.

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