Question: Is a person who is unable to speak or a dumb competent witness? If so, in what manner can he give evidence? Give reasons and also refer to relevant provisions, if any, on the point. Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [Is a person who is unable to speak or a dumb… Read More »

Question: Is a person who is unable to speak or a dumb competent witness? If so, in what manner can he give evidence? Give reasons and also refer to relevant provisions, if any, on the point. Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [Is a person who is unable to speak or a dumb competent witness? If so, in what manner can he give evidence? Give reasons and also refer to relevant provisions, if any, on the point.] Answer Section 119 of the Indian Evidence Act talks about...

Question: Is a person who is unable to speak or a dumb competent witness? If so, in what manner can he give evidence? Give reasons and also refer to relevant provisions, if any, on the point.

Find the answer to the mains question only on Legal Bites. [Is a person who is unable to speak or a dumb competent witness? If so, in what manner can he give evidence? Give reasons and also refer to relevant provisions, if any, on the point.]

Answer

Section 119 of the Indian Evidence Act talks about the competency of a dumb witness in testifying before the court. The provision states that a witness who is unable to speak may give his evidence in any other manner in which he can make it intelligible, as by writing or by signs; but such writing must be written and the signs made in open court.

The evidence so given shall be deemed to be oral evidence.

This section was amended vide the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 on the basis of recommendations given by the Justice JS Verma Committee, constituted in the aftermath of the December 2012 Nirbhaya rape incident.

The title of this section has been changed by this amendment, so as to enable the courts to take resort to the modalities during the course of recording of evidence, as prescribed in this section, to not merely the dumb witnesses, but to all those witnesses who are unable to communicate verbally.

So, now the section applies to the cases of persons who are unable to speak due to physical deformity and also to the cases of witnesses who have taken a vow of silence. When a deaf-mute is a witness the court will ascertain before he is examined that he possesses the requisite amount of intelligence and that he understands the nature of an oath. A deaf-mute’s evidence may be taken—

  1. by written questions to which he may reply in writing, or
  2. by means of signs.

When a deaf and dumb person is examined in the court, the court has to exercise due caution and take care to ascertain before he is examined that he possesses the requisite amount of intelligence and that he understands the nature of an oath. On being satisfied on this, the witness may be administered oath by appropriate means and that also with the assistance of an interpreter.

However, in case a person can read and write, it is most desirable to adopt that method being more satisfactory than any sign language. The law requires that there must be a record of signs and not the interpretation of signs.

A dumb person need not be prevented from being a credible and reliable witness merely due to his/her physical disability. Such a person though unable to speak may convey himself through writing, if literate or through signs and gestures if he is unable to read and write.

Therefore, a deaf and dumb person is a competent witness. If in the opinion of the court, the oath can be administered to him/her, it should be so done. Such a witness, if able to read and write, it is desirable to record his statement giving him questions in writing and seeking answers in writing.

In case the witness is not able to read and write, his statement can be recorded in sign language with the aid of an interpreter if found necessary.


Important Mains Questions Series for Judiciary, APO & University Exams

  1. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-I
  2. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-II
  3. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-III
  4. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-IV
  5. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-V
  6. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VI
  7. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VII
  8. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-VIII
  9. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-IX
  10. Law of Evidence Mains Questions Series Part-X
Updated On 2021-10-26T07:40:44+05:30
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