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Competency of Witnesses Under Indian Evidence Act, 1872

Globally, the witness is essential to both criminal and civil judicial systems. One of the most important parts of the legal process is the witness. To put it simply, the legal system is the "whole complicated phenomenon of the Court of Justice functioning."Judge Benjamin Cardozo asserts that while judges do create laws, they only do it in the void. He fills in the gaps in the legislation. He cannot have the distance he can cover on a chart without going past the interstitial walls. As he develops the feeling of testimony and proportion that comes with years of habituation in the execution of an art, he must discover it for himself.

Similarly, the Indian judiciary's upper branch construed the legislation and its clauses concerning witnesses. The legal system has occasionally recognized the significance of witnesses in the course of judicial proceedings. As stated by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in Mahender Chawla & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors. Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 156 of 2016, witnesses play a crucial role in the legal system and assist judges in reaching accurate factual conclusions.

Witness Under The Act
"Whereas it is expedient to consolidate, define, and amend the Law of Evidence," the Act's preamble states. Three components are essential to a legal proceeding: the actor, who represents the plaintiff, the reus, or defendant, and the judex, or judicial power. It investigates whether the facts are true. By doing this, the witness's role ascertains the party responsible for the harm or injustice. The Act's section 3 contains the interpretation clause. The Statute makes no use of the word "witness". Nonetheless, the Act addresses a witness's capacity to testify. before put it simply, we can say that a witness is someone who testifies or presents evidence before a court or tribunal. Every individual is generally eligible to testify.

Competency to Testify
The main sources of evidence are papers and witnesses. The facts are the main emphasis of the legal case, as was already mentioned. It is considered that the witness has the necessary skills; in other words, it is assumed that the witness is not there because of a lack of moral or mental capacity. All witnesses must be competent to testify, unless the court determines that their young age, advanced age, physical or mental illness, or other similar condition prevents them from comprehending the questions posed to them or from providing thoughtful replies to those questions.

After taking into account the aforementioned, it is evident that everyone is qualified to testify, unless the Court determines that they are incapable of understanding the questions or of providing logical responses due to their young age, advanced age, physical or mental disease, or any other similar reason. The competency of the witnesses is not the only factor that determines whether or not evidence is admissible.

A witness may be entitled to privilege under Section 118, but if he or she provides listening proof or states their opinions or convictions in lieu of the truth in the course of their expertise, their testimony may not be admitted. Regardless of whether they are officially designated as witnesses or not, all witnesses who are competent to understand the substance of the oath and to give impartial testimony compete in civil courts. On the other hand, it hinges on his understanding of the questions asked of him in his capacity as a witness and his ability to provide clear answers.

It's critical to consider a witness's compellability in addition to their competency. It is possible to call and compel competent witnesses to testify in court. The General Witness shall be required to testify before the court in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. Nonetheless, there are certain people who, despite their competence, cannot be made to comply. Persons with immunity, such as foreign diplomats and sovereigns, cannot be forced to testify. This is known as restricted privilege or compellability.

Child Witness (Tender Years)
Child witnesses are typically not incapable of testifying in court. But, as was already mentioned, a youngster is not competent to testify if he is unable to comprehend the questions being asked of him or to provide a response. There is no minimum age requirement to evaluate a child witness's competency. A three- to four-year-old can attest to his or her ability to understand the questions and must be able to respond to them in a way that makes sense.

It's possible that the evidence that was recorded without an oath was not false. If the witness is a minor, the oath does not need to be administered. The child is unable to understand the oath's moral significance. The child witnesses' high propensity for coaching necessitates a careful and cautious examination of their evidence, and confirmation by an inherent, competent, and independent witness to the event is essential. It should be noted in the context of the aforementioned study that there is no set criterion for intelligence, experience, education, or other qualifications that would qualify a kid as a witness.

It is impossible to refute the child's evidence if it is credible and true. In Suresh v. State of UP AIR 1981, SC 1122, it was decided that even a five-year-old child could testify competently. However, in State of Bihar v. Hanuman Koeri (1971) Cr.L.J. 187 (Pat.), it was decided that an eight-year-old child who is incapable of understanding questions or providing thoughtful answers is unable to testify.

The young witness is often swayed by those who are close to them. Evidence from a kid witness who is receiving tutoring is not trustworthy, and even if there is no practice guideline governing desirability or prudence, the child witness's testimony should be verified. Six The court administers a test known as the "voir dire test" when recording a child's testimony. It indicates that the witness was questioned by the court. The court makes an assumption regarding the kid witness's competency based on the youngster's side questions and replies. It is preferable for magistrates and justices to always document their belief that the youngster is aware of their responsibility to speak the truth, along with their reasoning.

Other Kind of Disease

It is possible that the witness will later be deemed unfit to appear in court. There are circumstances in which someone might not be able to respond with reason. Act 118 declares that if a person is able to understand the questions being asked, there is essentially no reason why they should not be permitted to testify. People might offer assistance with social concerns, household troubles, or mental distress, for instance.

For the insane person, Section 118 of the Act Evidence Act is applicable. The insane witness testifies, but the part is not horrible. My weakness is somewhere between total stupidity and lunacy. This is a person who possesses empathy, but he has lost the ability to employ reason as a result. The crazy guy had to testify, too, according to that part. At about the same time, though, the law declares the insane to be unsuitable to testify in such circumstances.

In the event that the man's incapacity to testify for you prevents him from understanding the questions and from answering them. A madman may occasionally have periods of clarity, but during these periods his mental processes might not be functioning normally enough for him to comprehend questions asked of him and respond logically. Section 118's explanation pertains to the situation of a monomaniac or a person experiencing partial insanity. If the court determines that such an individual is a witness, then they will be allowed to testify.

A number of archaic authorities have been presented to demonstrate that a lunatic or somebody non-compass mentis is not a credible witness. However, the question remains as to what context non-compass mentis is employed. Obviously, he shouldn't be allowed to testify as an eyewitness if by that one is intended to mean someone who doesn't comprehend the purpose of an oath. In another sense, however, he might not be non-compass mentis. He is able to provide relevant testimony and is aware of how an unusual works.

The importance of the witness in the criminal and civil justice systems is also concluded. Regarding the topic of this essay, we can presume that the Act mandates that all parties appear in court. Naturally, there are several exclusions that forbid witnesses from testifying in court. However, these exclusions will also apply to those who are extremely elderly, very young, or who suffer from a physical, mental, or other type of disease.

Written By: Akanksha

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