Child Witnesses: Overview

The part 118 of the Act states that every one folks (together with minors and lunatics) are in a position to testify, if the court docket considers them fit to do the equal. Consequently, even a child is capable witness but the courtroom have to satisfy itself that the witness is familiar with the questions and is able to provide rational account of what he has noticeable, heard or finished on a special occasion.



With their father serving a lifestyles imprisonment sentence for murdering their mom, the future of seven children is now at chance with nobody left to maintain them. The Delhi trial court recently convicted 40-12 months-historic Amruddin for the murder of his spouse Rihana and sentenced him to life imprisonment after counting on the testimony of his youngsters. Rihana’s mom recently approached the courtroom to seek aid as she is financially incapable to care for the children. A couple of organizations have stepped forward to support the family but the instances remain so much the same.

Pic Courtesy- Wikihow

The case dealt with the touchy predicament of little one witnesses. The court docket affirmed the view that even “a youngster of soft age can be allowed to testify if he has mental capability to realize questions and provides rational answers thereto.”

Legal Competency of Child Witnesses

Witnesses type an crucial part of criminal justice system. They make clear quite a lot of hobbies and occasions which support the courtroom to reach a conclusive finding beyond reasonable doubt. The Indian proof Act, 1872 does not prescribe any distinctive age as a determinative element to treat a witness to be a ready one.The penal rule that exempts a minor from culpability in any crime because of lack of adequate intelligence just isn't relevant in law of proof with regards to competency of witnesses.

The part 118 of the Act states that every one folks (together with minors and lunatics) are in a position to testify, if the court docket considers them fit to do the equal. Consequently, even a child is capable witness but the courtroom have to satisfy itself that the witness is familiar with the questions and is able to provide rational account of what he has noticeable, heard or finished on a special occasion.

Reason behind enabling minors as witnesses

unluckily, kids turn out to be high witnesses in a plethora of cases involving touchy issues like youngster abuse, domestic violence, murders, sexual offences amongst others. If a statutory age limit is imposed through the legislature it will undoubtedly act as deterrent in the supply and administration of justice. Enabling child witnesses to testify is a positive step taken both with the aid of the judiciary and the legislature.

Considering a minor will also be effectively tutored or influenced the courts must scrutinize his/her testimony carefully. Mainly the query whether the youngster witness possesses sufficient intelligence is to be adjudged by using the trial decide who notices his manners, his obvious possession or lack of intelligence. But a superior court after inspecting the documents could rule or else, if it has sufficient intent to feel that the prior discovering was faulty.

Need of corroboration

Though section 114 of IEA requires that every statement of an compliance must be corroborated but a vast majority of cases show that it is not a very hared and fast rule, specially in rape cases and that too of a child of tender year. There is difference between what the rule is and what has been hardened into a rule of law. In such cases the judge must give some indication that he has had this rule of caution in mind and should proceed to give reasons for considering it unnecessary to require corroboration on the facts of the particular case before him and show why he considers it safe to convict without corroboration in that particular caseHeld on the basis of the above observations the SC affirmed the decision of the HC.

Precautions to be taken through Courts

  1. The Courts have to cautiously scrutinize the testimony. Corroboration of testimony by using some extra evidence is most commonly preferred by using courts.
  2.  Questions have to be requested through the judge to assess the mental capability of the youngster. In English Courts judges typically as ask a popular query “Is the colour of my hair inexperienced”.
  3.  The courts need to don't forget the proof of a baby witness and credibility thereof within the mild of the tips and instances of each case.

For that reason, the court docket whilst assessing the evidence of a child witness ought to make certain that the witness is safe and his/her demeanor is like some other capable witness and there is not any probability of being tutored.

Pic Courtesy- Chandigarhmetro

In competency of a child witness

In State v Allen, 70 Wn.2d 690, 424 P.2d 1021 (1967) it was observed that the burden of proving incompetence is on the party opposing the witness. Courts consider 5 factors when determining competency of a child witness. Absence of any of them renders the child incompetent to testify. They are

  1. An understanding of the obligation to speak the truth on the witness stand;
  2. The mental capacity at the time of the occurrence concerning which he is to testify, to receive an accurate impression of it;
  3. A memory sufficient to retain an independent recollection of the occurrence;
  4. The capacity to express in words his memory of the occurrence; and
  5. The capacity to understand simply questions about it.

State v. Yenkappa (2003) CRI LJ 3558

Here the accused was convicted for the murder of his own wife on the basis of the statements of his children who were adolescents .admission of such statement was challenged on appeal. in this regard the accused produced some evidence as to the fact that the children have been tutored and therefore their evidence must be rejected. Here the SC observed that it is the setteled law that just because the witness happens to be a child witness his evidence could not be rejected in toto on that score.

However the court must be cautious enough to see that an innocent is not punished solely acting upon the testimony of child witness , as the children are very easily suspect able for tutoring. Here if one look upon the circumstances of the case then, it will be found that the presence of these witnesses in the house is the normal situation and their witnessing the incident cannot be regarded as unusual or unnatural. therefore, their evidence inspires confidence and will have to be acted upon.

Law regarding young guns

Although law with regards to youngster witnesses is simply and affordable however the courts must take extra precaution in such cases. Distinctive witness safety schemes need to be initiated via the government to guard these children. In cases involving sexual offences in-digital camera trial need to be made obligatory. The identity and comfortable role of the youngsters should now not be disclosed in public.Instead of recording statements in hostile environment of the court docket, ample preparations should be made to make certain that such memories are made in comfy surroundings.

The protection will have to not be approved to ask aggressive or flawed questions during the move examination. Such trials should be conducted privately. Involvement of media should be restrained. The courts have got to allow the presence of an suggest or a family member while the little one is giving evidence.

Pic Courtesy- ycassa

Evidently, leaving these kids as victims of fate is just not a solution. We need to body insurance policies and ideas that safeguard these youngsters from the successive psychological and fiscal set-again. These children in most cases face social stratification and lack of loved ones support. The plight of those kids wants to be addressed both by means of the government and the society. They will have to be treated as victims and now not just witnesses. We need to work for their higher future, a future which is free from the world of crime, hatred and poverty.