It is an old dictum that a child is truth personified. Nothing perhaps illustrates this better than the recent record of minor witnesses in standing firm on their testimonies and leading to a number of convictions in city courts.
Sample this: In the majority of the 25 cases over the past three years in which children were listed as witnesses, most children have stayed firm on their statements even as other adult witnesses have turned hostile.
In the most recent case, nine-year-old Reshma testified honestly and correctly and helped the court convict the killers of her father, even as two witnesses had turned hostile. The murder had occurred on June 25, 2013, when her father Munshi Ram was killed after a minor argument over stolen utensils. It needs to be considered that there are reverses. In some cases of sexual exploitation, the accused
are acquitted and others where a testimony fails to convince the judge.
STILL, THE TREND DESERVES DISCUSSION
“To qualify as a witness, the child should be able to able to understand the questions of the court and should be able to answer them rationally. A child is natural speaker and during the recording of evidence it can be made out whether the child is tutored,” said advocate Kapil Mittal.
“Children are gullible and the possibility of tutoring increases. It is seen that the child says whatever is taught to them and in the absence of witness protection programme, the possibility of influencing children increases,” said advocate Inderjeet Bassi.
Public prosecutor Atul Sethi, said, “The challenge to summon a child as witness is to provide an environment where he/she can speak without fear. As no specific questions can be put, so frequently, the child cannot explain his statement properly, helping the accused.”
SOME CASES WHERE CHILDREN STEPPED INTO THE WITNESS
NOV 15, 2013: Based on the testimony of a 5-year-old gangrape victim, the court awarded 10-year-jail term to two migrant labourers — Manish and Sunil, from Uttar Pradesh, for raping her AUG 16, 2012: Based on the statement of a nine-year-old boy, 33-year-old Arvind Kumar, a Colony Number 5 resident, was awarded 10-year-jail for raping the witness’s mentally-challenged sister. The victim was mentally challenged and was not deemed fit to record her statement in court. MAY 16, 2011: Testimony of 10-year-old helped the court hold his abductors Aditya and Dharmesh, guilty. The witness had identified the guilty.
SEP 27, 2013 Sunita Rani and her alleged paramour Naresh Kumar booked for the murder of Sunita’s husband Patti Ram, a rickshaw puller, were acquitted. The court refused to believe the theory of eight-year-old son of the deceased, who claimed to have witnessed the murder from the adjoining room through a hole in the wall.