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Can court pass sentence on the sole testimony of child witness

by | 14 Mar, 2020 | Criminal Law

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My friend created a child witness for giving a false statement against me. In February 2018 our workers had indulged in fighting in the course of which one worker died. My friend lodged an FIR against a few other workers and me for the offence of murder.

He influenced the child of the deceased worker to become an eyewitness of the incident. The statement of the child witness does not get corroboration from other independent evidence, but the court has relied upon him. Can the court pronounce sentence only based on the testimony of child witness?

A child is a competent witness under section 118 of the Indian Evidence Act. His competency depends upon his ability to understand the question and giving rational answer thereof. The statement of a child witness must be accurate and reliable in the facts and circumstances of the case.

Corroboration of the child witness

However, corroboration enhances the reliability of the statement, but it is not a mandatory rule. It is the court to decide whether the testimony of a child witness seems reliable or not. When the facts of the case support the statement of the child witness, then the court will rely upon without any corroboration. 

The court can seek corroboration if the child witness gives a contradictory statement or seems to be a tortured witness. 

In your case, he has falsely produced as an eyewitness. The prosecution has to prove his presence at the place of occurrence. A child does not employ in the factory so the prosecution must establish the purpose of his being there. If he is a chance witness, then corroboration with some independent evidence is a must. 

Digamber Vaishnav and others vs State of Chattisgarh AIR 2019 SC 1367;

The Supreme Court has held that:

evidence of child witness and his credibility could depend upon the facts and circumstances of each case. There is no rule of practice that in every case, the evidence of a child witness has to be corroborated by other evidence. But as prudence, the court always finds it desirable to seek corroboration to such evidence from another reliable evidence placed on the record. 

Competency

The child witness must have the ability to understand the question and give a rational answer. The court can ask a few general questions to the child witness for testing such ability. If the court finds that he is a competent witness, then it proceeds to take his evidence. It is a rule of prudence for the court to satisfy itself that child witness is acceptable.

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