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 case . Held on the basis of the above observations the SC affirmed the decision of the HC.
Precautions to be taken through Courts
- The Courts have to cautiously scrutinize the testimony. Corroboration of testimony by using some extra evidence is most commonly preferred by using courts.
- 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”.
- 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.
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
- An understanding of the obligation to speak the truth on the witness stand;
- The mental capacity at the time of the occurrence concerning which he is to testify, to receive an accurate impression of it;
- A memory sufficient to retain an independent recollection of the occurrence;
- The capacity to express in words his memory of the occurrence; and
- 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.
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.
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