Let’s start with who is a witness?
Generally, a witness is someone who has knowledge about an incident and he can appear before the court to give statement in a trial.
Legally, a witness is someone who gives a deposition in law.
Section 118 of the Indian Evidence Act 1872 explains that
- All persons can be witnesses
- Unless they are barred from understanding the questions put to them and give rational answers.
So, any person who can understand the questions being asked to them by the court and is able to give proper answers can be a witness.
In that case, the following persons:-
- Child of tender years
- Diseased person
- Lunatic person
- Offspring or Old age person
can be witnesses only if they are capable of giving rational answers as per the opinion of the court.
A lunatic person can be a competent witness during his lucid interval.
A dumb person who is voiceless or unable to speak can become a competent witness under section 119 of the Indian Evidence Act in a trial. He can submit his statement either by writing or through signs.
- In case of writings, that writing will be regarded as “oral evidence” in the court.
- In case of signs, the court will require an interpreter to convert his signs into words. Signs of the witness and interpretation by interpreter both shall be videographed.
In both civil and criminal cases, spouse parties can be competent witnesses under Section-120 of the Indian Evidence Act.
Let’s say, ‘A’ committed theft and he was prosecuted. A’s wife B was suspecting him over this issue. Here, B can be a competent witness in court.
So, if a person is a party to the suit then his/her spouse can be a competent witness.
BUT there are certain Limitations to section 120 that is explained under Section 122 the same act. It says if the spouse communicated with each other about the incidents that are in issue, then the other spouse can not be a competent witness.
From the previous example, If A committed theft and came back home to his wife B and explained the matter, then B can not be a competent witness during his trial in court.
An accomplice or co-accused can be a competent witness against the accused person as per Section-133 of the Indian Evidence Act.
Under Section-315 of CrPC, an accused person can become a witness for the defense.
- He is called as a witness upon his own request in in writting.
- If he fails to give evidence, it shall not be made an issue nor shall be used in anywyay.
Is there any other aspect you would like to add? Post your suggestions below.
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