The Bombay High Court referred to a rape case to the Trial Court on the ground that proof of deaf and dumb victim was recorded without considering Section 119 Evidence Act. In accordance with Section 119 of the Evidence Act, where the witness is unable to communicate verbally, the court shall take the assistance of an interpreter or a special educator to record the statement, and the statement shall be video graphed.
In Rajasthan versus Darshan Singh, the Supreme Court clarified how to take proof when the witness is deaf and stupid. In summary, a deaf and dumb person is a competent witness. If in the Court's view, the oath can be given to him or her, it should be performed so. Such a witness, if able to read and write, it is beneficial to record his declaration by asking him questions in writing and seeking responses in writing. If the witness is unable to read and write, his statement can be recorded in sign language, if necessary, with the help of the interpreter.
If the interpreter is offered an oath, he should be a man of the same surroundings but should have no interest in the situation and oath should be given. Justice A. M. Dhavale, in the appeal lodged by a rape convict, noted that the Trial Court did not check the understanding ability of the victim. Although proof of the witness was recorded by appointing an interpreter, no oath was provided to the interpreter to interpret the issues placed to the witness fully and properly; and to interpret fully and properly, the responses were provided to the court by the witness in sign language, the court said.
Remanding the matter back to the Trial Court, the Judge said, the judge shall record the ability to comprehend and interpret the sign language of the deaf and dumb person. The judge shall offer an oath to the interpreter to properly interpret the witnesses' questions and the victim's responses to the court. After the completion, the proof shall be registered, and the same shall be video graphed. The prosecution shall arrange fior the videography of the proof.
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