New Delhi: The testimony of deaf and dumb witnesses can by relied upon by courts as they are competent and signs and gestures are admissible piece of evidence, the Supreme Court today ruled.
Interpreting Section 119 of the Indian Evidence Act, a bench of justices B S Chauhan and Dipak Misra said testimony of such witnesses is valid as long as the same in done in an intelligible manner to the satisfaction of the court.
"Signs and gestures made by nods or head are admissible and such nods and gestures are not only admissible but possess evidentiary value.
"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.
"To sum up, a deaf and dumb person is a competent witness. If in the opinion of the court, 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," Justice Chauhan writing the judgement said.