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Question: Is an old man of 102 years competent to testify? Give reasons and also refer to relevant provisions, if any, on the point.
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Section 118 of the Indian Evidence Act provides for ‘Who may testify?’ It states: All persons shall be competent to testify unless the Court considers that they are prevented from understanding the questions put to them, or from giving rational answers to those questions, by tender years, extreme old age, disease, whether of body or mind or any other cause of the same kind.
Under this section, all persons are competent to testify, unless they are, in the opinion of the court are extreme old age as for instance of 102 years as given in the present case at hand.
However, in determining the question of competency the court has not to enter into enquiries as to witnesses religious belief, or as to the knowledge of the consequences of falsehood in this world or the next. It has to ascertain in the best way possible whether, from the extent of his intellectual capacity and understanding, the witness is able to give a rational account of what he has seen or heard or done on a particular occasion.
Thus, keeping in consideration the below points related to section 118, Indian Evidence Act:
- All witnesses are presumed to be competent unless they are shown to be otherwise.
- A witness is not competent if he or she is unable to express him- or herself in a manner that can be understood, or is incapable of understanding the duty, to tell the truth.
- If a witness’s competency is challenged by a party or called into question by the circumstances, the judge must satisfy him- or herself that the witness is competent, but the form and manner of that inquiry are left in the court’s discretion.
It can be said that an old man of 102 years is competent to testify unless he is shown to be otherwise not capable of expressing himself in an understandable manner before the court or is unable to understand his duty before the court of deposing the truth.
The final decision regarding his competency lies with the court who must satisfy the competency of a 102 aged man to testify. Thus, age is no bar for a person to be a competent witness, so evidence of an old age witness is not required to be rejected per se, but the court as a rule of prudence considers such evidence with close scrutiny and only on being convinced about the quality thereof and reliability can record a conviction, based thereon.
Important Mains Questions Series for Judiciary, APO & University Exams
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