Evidence of child witness cannot be rejected outright: HC

Evidence of child witness cannot be rejected outright: HC

The evidence of a child witness cannot be rejected outright, the Delhi High Court has ruled while upholding the life sentence awarded to a man for kidnapping and then raping a minor girl three years ago.

A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and S P Garg gave the ruling dismissing Shalimar Bagh resident Amrit Sharma alias Amit's appeal against his conviction and sentence of life imprisonment, awarded by the trial court on September 27, 2010 on basis of the testimonies of the victim and her friend.

"The law on the issue is that the evidence of a child witness cannot be rejected outright. It must be evaluated more carefully and with greater circumspection because a child is susceptible to be swayed by others and can be tutored.

"Small children can make false identification not because they want to depose and state false facts but because they may not be guided and be fully aware and conscious of the adverse consequence and the effect of making false positive identification," the court said in a recent judgement.

The bench accepted the statements of victim, a 4-year-old girl at the time of incident in April 2009, and also her friend, who is also of same age group, that the accused had offered them biscuit and Rs 10 to go with him.

The court also accepted the statement of the victim's friend that she had declined the offer of the accused but had witnessed that the victim was taken away by him to a nearby forest area.

"In the absence of any contrary evidence, we cannot assume that testimonies of PW-6 (victim) and PW-11 (victim's friend) should not be considered simply because they were child witnesses.

There is nothing on record to show that both of them were not capable to reveal the incident and identify the accused," the bench said.

"...Moreover, it was the perception of the child witnesses as to how they connected the culprit as he was not known to them by name. There was no hesitation for both of them to recognise and identify him in the court.

The accused was arrested on the identification of the prosecutrix," the court said and rejected the argument of the accused that he was framed in the case as the victim's mother wanted to extort money from him.