118. Who may testify? –
All persons shall be competent to testify unless the Court considers that they are prevented from understanding the question put to them, or from giving rational answer to those questions, by tender years, extreme old age, disease, whether of body and mind, or any other cause of the same kind.
A lunatic is not incompetent to testify, unless he is prevented by his lunacy from understanding the questions put to him and giving rational answers to them.
Reliability of witness
Testimony of a relation or a friend normally would not falsely implicate a person thereby shielding the actual culprit; Narasingh Challan v. State of Orissa, (1997) 2 Crimes 78 (Ori).
It is true that by itself the evidence of a chance witness may not necessarily be false but as has often been said that it is unsafe to be relied upon; Ganpat Kondiba Chavan v. State of Maharashtra, (1997) 2 Crimes 38 (Bom).
It is thoroughly unsafe to rely on the evidence of the tutored witness; Krishna Mohali v. State of Bihar, (1997) 2 Crimes 146 (Pat).
Relative or interested witnesses are not necessarily unreliable witnesses; Sawai Ram v. State of Rajasthan, (1997) 2 Crimes 148 (Raj).
No doubt, an approver in the eye of law is a competent witness; Murlidharan v. State of Tamil Nadu, (1997) 1 Crimes 515 (Mad).
Evidence of child witness is not reliable who is under the influence of tutoring; Changan Dame v. State of Gujarat, 1994 Cr LJ 66 (SC).
Testimony of independent witness
It is true that there is no immutable rule of appreciation of evidence that the testimony of independent witnesses should be ipso facto accepted but all the same the circumstance that witnesses are independent goes miles and miles to ensure their truthfulness. Criminal Courts decide cases and the question of acceptance of evidence of witnesses on sound common sense and when they find witnesses to be wholly independent they endeavour to fathom the reason as to why their evidence should not be accepted. Ordinarily it is a safe and sound rule of appreciation of evidence to accept the testimony of an independent witness provided it is in consonance with probabilities. It is better if it is corroborated by inbuilt guarantees which ensure the truthfulness of the prosecution case, such as a prompt F.I.R., recoveries at the instance of accused person and the presence of injured eyewitnesses, etc.; Shravan Dashrath Datrange v. State of Maharashtra, (1997) 2 Crimes 47 (Bom).