TITLE – SUBMISSION OF ANIMAL TESTIMONY IN COURTS AND ITS RELEVANCE IN FUTURE    

ABSTRACT:-

Testimony may be defined as a formal statement made by witness to what they saw and know about the situation after they promise to tell the truth in court. Section 118-134 of Indian evidence act define who can testify as witness, what statement will be considered as testimony etc. Section 118 of Indian evidence Act states that all person shall be competent to testify in court, unless they are not able to understand question put to them or they are not able to answer the question rationally due to age, disease or any or any other cause. The question is can animals and birds be included as a witness under the ambit of section 119 of Indian evidence ACT ,1872? If yes, then what’s the future of such evidence in the long term.  There have been various instances where there is no witness present at the crime scene except for pets. In many cases around the globe have been accepted but as of now animals as a witness is still not accepted in India. This abstract explores the future of an animal or bird providing testimony in courts.

KEYWORDS-

HOMO SAPIENS, TESTIMONY, INDIAN  EVIDENCE ACT 1972, ECO SYSTEM, WITNESS, LEGAL ENTITY, AVIANS, INDIAN OATH ACT 1983.

INTRODUCTION

Human beings, animals and birds have co-existed, and it is now impossible for us to imagine our lives without them. They form a very crucial part of ecosystem Animals and birds are an important part of the ecosystem .and are now part of our day-to-day life activities, research projects, scientific testing, travel, entertainment etc. Even though birds and animals form an intrinsic part of our eco system but still there is a lot of question and debate around can animal be used as a testimony in courts. Testimony may be defined as a formal statement made by witness to what they saw and know about the situation after they promise to tell the truth in court. Section 118-134 of Indian evidence act define who can testify as witness, what statement will be considered as testimony etc. Section 118 of Indian evidence Act states that all person shall be competent to testify in court, unless they are not able to understand question put to them or they are not able to answer the question rationally due to age, disease or any or any other cause. Section 119 of Indian evidence act 1972 states that a witness who is unable to speak may give his evidence in any other manner such as in writing, signs made in open courts through which he can make it intelligible. After the judgement of  Karnail Singh and others v. State of Haryana in 2019 it was held that, the entire animal kingdom including avian, and aquatic are declared as legal entities having a distinct persona with corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person. So, the question was since animals are now a legal entity can they be included as a witness under the ambit of article 119 of Indian evidence act 1972? The inter junction of law and ethics regarding animals’ testimony in courts has sparked considerable number of debates and exploration in recent years. As society is moving toward technological advancement, understanding of animals’ emotions, their feelings, and communication deepens. So does the question of their capacity to provide testimony in legal proceedings. 

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

This paper is of descriptive nature based on secondary sources for deep analysis of future animal testimony in courts. Secondary sources like newspapers, websites, and research papers are used for research.

REVIEW OF LITERATURE 

Humans can think about certain things and are motivated by their instincts, intellect and logic. Animals are incapable of reasoning and are motivated by their instincts. This literature review aims to examine the current landscape and speculate on potential future developments in this area.

HISTORICAL INSTANCES OF ANIMAL TESTIMONY: –

 Animals like dogs have a great sense of smell and birds like parrots often Dub or repeat what they hear. The question is can these actions, dubbing or repeating of words be taken as witness or should they be fully ignored. There have been various instances around the globe where there is no witness present at the time of crime except for pets. 

  1. A trained bloodhound is the first animal whose evidence is legally admissible in some US courts. A typical bloodhound’s nose is lined with 230 million scent receptors – around 40 times more than the human nose. which are used in court to match scene-of-crime evidence to criminals. Bloodhounds have been used to trail human scent since Roman times. 
  2. In the mid 90s USA, Echo a parrot was a witness of child abuse and heard his boss say unpleasant things. During the trial echo repeated what he heard and after that echo was placed in witness protection. 
  3. In 2000 case of New York v. Snowball, where a parrot’s mimicry was used as evidence, marked a turning point in recognizing animals’ potential testimonial value.
  4. In 2008, in France a dog named SCOOBY was used as witness in murder case. The dog takes stand in a suspected murder case that was disguised as suicide to see if any suspect elicited excessive barking and apparently it worked and one of the suspects was identified as murderer.
  5. In 2014, a parrot in Agra, India helped the police in reaching the accused, the parrot was witness of murder of its owner (Mrs. Sharma) and her dog. Following the murder the house was also robbed but the police found no leads until her parrot began screaming the name of Sharma’s nephew. After hearing parrots cry Mr. Sharma requested the police to question the nephew. upon questioning nephew confesses to murder with the help of his friend. After 9 years of case both the accused were given life imprisonment and a fine of 72,000.
  6. In 2014, owner of a labrador named Tango had been killed in a violent fight. The court ordered the suspect to blow and threaten Labra with a baseball bat to check his response. Unfortunately, tango’s reaction was not helpful in conviction of murderer.

Legal Challenges:

With technological advancement there have been various techniques and machinery that recognizes animal reasonable and emotional complexity, despite all these advancements still significant legal challenges remain.  To avoid Establishing standards for admissibility, ensuring due process, and protecting animals from harm or exploitation pose formidable hurdles. Moreover, cultural and societal biases may influence judicial decisions regarding the credibility of animal testimonies, underscoring the need for impartial evaluation and education.

Despite growing recognition of animals’ cognitive and emotional complexity, significant legal challenges remain. Establishment of legal standards for admissibility of testimony of animals, ensuring that there is no abuse of animals, ensuring that the animals and birds are not used as object to mislead courts. 

Ethical Considerations:

 There have been various ethical debates surrounding animals and birds’ testimony. These debates mostly revolve around their ability to think, to communicate and their susceptibility to manipulation. Since animals are not a homo sapiens (human being) they cannot be put as testimony because they cannot take oath to tell the truth which a requirement is mentioned in section 14 of Indian Oath Act,1873.Also they cannot be cross-checked or examined because many animals don’t speak like humans and also some that do speak, they only mimic what they hear, these animals do not have rational thinking and can easily be manipulated, tortured or trained to give wrong testimony of evidence.

Scientific Insight and Technological advancement:

There has been various research that shows some animals and birds possess cognitive abilities and communication skills. Many special possess emotions like humans and can respond to human Alexandra Michel in his research “Humans are Animals Too: A WHIRLWIND TOUR OF COGNITIVE BIOLOGY” IN April 2017 stated that humans are animals too and like human many species like apes, mammals’ same ability as human, ability to think and respond, they feel same emotions. This research further reduces the gap of understanding and difference between humans and animals. Another research paper named “How are humans different from animals?” submitted by MALCOM performed a study on animals like Gunnison’s prairie dogs, hummingbird, Caledonian crow etc. These study on these animals and birds showed these animals show emotions like grief, sorrow, joy and pain. Very much like humans. All this research work further reduces the gap between humans, animals and birds. With the emergence of technologies various communication devices and brain reading devices are developed that can easily interpret animal behavior, actions and their signals. These technology and tools enhance animal and bird’s testimonial capabilities. Such tools can be helpful in facilitating communications with humans.

Future Directions: 

In recent years, animals’ testimony is gaining recognition. There has been an increase in the number of cases, but animals giving testimony has not yet been legally recognized, this does not necessarily mean that its position will remain the same in future. The future of bird and animal testimony depends on various factors such as research on animals and birds’ behavior, establishment of recognized legal framework for admissibility of testimony, societal attitudes, advancement in technologies and many other factors .even though we have few technologies for understanding and reading minds of animals but major issue with such technology is reliability and credibility because unlike humans animals and birds communicate non verbally and through behaviors that needs interpretation and moreover these behavior can be easily misinterpreted or manipulated that raise a lot of concern regarding fairness of judicial proceeding. Further there also rises concern regarding the presenting of animals and birds in courts, ensuring their well-being as well as the safety of people around them.

METHOD:

The legal profession may make use of animals and birds’ testimony in courts, which will be of great importance to the legal justice system, in the upcoming years. Submission of animals and birds’ testimony if utilized properly will save a lot of time and may ensure a speedy justice to victim or victims family.

However, such acceptance of animals and birds’ testimony will require a lot of time, effort, technology and resources, to understand how such acceptance and submission of testimony can benefit the general public and courts. If there is scope of acceptance of animal testimony it will only be beneficial if such testimony is accurate and not manipulated by people.to ensure this some expenditure on technology with special focus on animal behavior and lie detector should be made. It is high time to adopt, experiment with the submission of animal and birds’ testimony in courts.

 SUGGESTIONS:

  • Scientists should work on making a tool that can interpret animal behavior and translate it into human language for easy understanding. Since there are still not significant number of cases where animals were produced as witness ,i suggest this status should change and animals and birds’ involvement should increase as an experiment to check if there is possibility of including it legally.
  • Technology that are made for interpreting minds and behavior of animals should further be developed in such form that it can check if their behavior is influenced or manipulated if such technology is developed then society will start trusting and relying on animal testimony.

Conclusion:

The future of animal and birds’ testimony in courts is uncertain and hinges on interdisciplinary collaboration between law, science, and ethics. Continued research and efforts put into animal cognition and communication will inform the development of reliable methods for eliciting and interpreting their testimony.  Legal reforms aimed at recognizing animals as more than mere property and granting them status of legal entity legal may pave the way for more inclusion in legal proceedings. Moreover, initiatives to enhance the life of animals, empathy toward them and working for their welfare may result in changing societal attitude. Such a change of attitude will somehow result in people trusting animals and it may result in inclusion of their testimony legally.as of now there are significant legal challenges to overcome and giving animals and birds voice can be very beneficial for future of judicial process, but this should done without compromising the interest and welfare of animals and birds but at the same time ensuring the fairness and upholding the principle of natural justice . By embracing interdisciplinary collaboration and upholding principles of justice and compassion, society can chart a more inclusive and equitable path forward for animals and birds in the legal realm.

REFRENCES:

This article is written by SIDRAH HASEEN, student of B.A.L.L.B (4TH SEM) FROM S.S. KHANNA GIRLS DEGREE COLLEGE, PRAYAGRAJ, UTTARPRADESH.

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