Ratansinh Dalsukhbhai Nayak vs State Of Gujara (2004) 1 SCC 64. (Division bench)
The decision on the question whether the child witness has sufficient intelligence primarily rests with the trial Judge who notices his manners, his apparent possession or lack of intelligence, and the said Judge may resort to any examination which will tend to disclose his capacity and intelligence as well as his understanding of the obligation of an oath. The decision of the trial court may, however, be disturbed by the higher court if from what is preserved in the records, it is clear that his conclusion was erroneous. This precaution is necessary because child witnesses are amenable to tutoring and often live in a world of make-believe. Though it is an established principle that child witnesses are dangerous witnesses as they are pliable and liable to be influenced easily, shaken and moulded, but it is also an accepted norm that if after careful scrutiny of their evidence the court comes to the conclusion that there is an impress of truth in it, there is no obstacle in the way of accepting the evidence of a child witness.
Panchhi & Ors. v. State of U.P (1998) 7 SCC 177
The evidence of a child witness must be evaluated more carefully and with greater circumspection, because a child is susceptible to be swayed by what others tell him and, thus, a child witness is an easy prey to tutoring. The Supreme Court further observed that the courts have held that the evidence of a child witness must find adequate corroboration before it is relied upon. But, it is more a rule of practical wisdom than of law. It is not necessary to refer to other judgments cited by learned counsel because they reiterate the same principles.
The conclusion which can be deduced from the relevant pronouncements of the Supreme Court is that the evidence of a child witness must be subjected to close scrutiny to rule out the possibility of tutoring. It can be relied upon if the court finds that the child witness has sufficient intelligence and understanding of the obligation of an oath. As a matter of caution, the court must find adequate corroboration to the child witness’s evidence. If found, reliable and truthful and corroborated by other evidence on record, it can be accepted without hesitation.
Dattu Ramrao Sakhare And Ors vs State Of Maharashtra, 1997 SCC (Cri) 685 (Division bench)
Even in the absence of oath, the evidence of a child witness can be considered under Section 118 of the evidence Act provided that such witness is able to understand the question and able to give rational answers thereof. The evidence of a child witness and credibility thereof would depend upon the circumstances of each case. case. The only precaution which the court should bear in mind while assessing the evidence of a child witness is that the witness must reliable one and his/her demeanour must be like any other competent witness and there is no likelihood of being tutored. There is no practice that in every case the evidence of such a witness be corroborated before a conviction can be allowed to stand but, however, as a rule of prudence the court always finds it desirable to have the corroboration to such evidence from other dependable evidence on record.
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