GUWAHATI, July 18 - A�child�can be easily framed to answer questions in court as a witness. The factor of age is a reasonable restriction on this. This was stated by Justice Kalyan Rai Surana of the Gauhati High Court while speaking at a webinar titled �Child Witness- Admissibility & Credibility� conducted by the Royal Global University (RGU) here on Saturday, said a press release.
Justice Surana, who made it clear that he was speaking at the webinar on his personal capacity and not as a judge of the Gauhati High Court, started his discourse with Section 118 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872 which states that any competent person can be a witness unless the same has been barred by the court or any law. They need to understand the questions that are being put to them. They need to give rational answers to the questions.�A lunatic is also competent to testify if he is able to understand the questions that are being put to him. The answers given by him should be rational as well. A counsel who is acquainted with the facts of the case can also be a witness even though he is appearing on behalf of any party in the case, he added.
Justice Surana further stated that a�child�can be easily framed to answer the questions. The factor of age is a reasonable restriction on this. For determination of the competency of a child to be a witness, the courts check the intellectual capacity of the child. It all depends upon the judge to take a child as a witness or not.�The courts need to be very cautious in dealing with such witnesses, he said.
Evidence provided by interested persons cannot be discarded but needs to be dealt with most cautiously and carefully. A related witness can also be regarded as an interested witness, the learned judge said.
Justice Surana touched upon various privy council cases and other leading Supreme Court cases, even referring to a case of as recent as 2019. He also spoke about the child witness scheme and the loopholes in the infrastructural system India has. He mentioned that the sound role is not to entertain uncollaborated evidence. Specifically, he gave a lot of importance to the oath to be taken by the witness. He also answered questions on cross-examination of a child witness.