New Delhi, April 6: The Supreme Court has ruled that the testimony of a child witness is an admissible piece of evidence which can be used to convict an accused.
Whether the child witness has sufficient intelligence primarily rests with the trial judge who notices his manners, his apparent possession or lack of intelligence, a bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice P Sathasivam observed.
A child of tender age can be allowed to testify if he or she has intellectual capacity to understand questions and give rational answers, the apex court said. It passed the observation while altering the life sentence imposed by a sessions court in Andhra Pradesh on the accused Golla Yelugu Govindu who hacked to death his wife Dhanalakshi with a sickle.
The killing committed by Govindu was a sequel to the quarrel he picked with his wife after she failed to bring money from her parents for the purchase of an autorickshaw as demanded by the accused.
The gruesome incident was witnessed by the three minor children of the couple whose testimony eventually led to the imposition of the life imprisonment by the sessions judge and was later confirmed by the High Court.
In the appeal, the accused reiterate that since the children were of tender age their testimony could not be relied upon for convicting him. Rejecting the argument, the apex court said the Indian Evidence Act 1872 does not prescribe any particular age as a determinative factor to treat a witness to be a competent.
The evidence of a child witness is not required to be rejected per se, but the court as a rule of prudence considers such evidence with close scrutiny and only on being convinced about the quality thereof and reliability can record conviction, based thereon, the apex court said. — PTI